The Real Housewife of Santa Monica

Archive of ‘Christina’ category

Back East

First & foremost, today is my sister, Libby’s birthday so, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIBBY!!! To a sweet sister & aunt from us. We love you tons and wish we could be with you on this special day. I hope everyone in FFLD is treating you right!

Next, I haven’t posted anything in a while because we were out of town and frankly, I don’t seem to get much done now that Bea’s crawling. By much I mean anything, including taking a shower. While I have been cooking I haven’t been able to post pix but I will be back on that this month.

We had an excellent excuse to go back east a few weeks ago: G’s cousin Paula was getting married in Albany. Of course there are no direct flights but let’s not get into that.

Beautiful bride Paula

Paula & Dave had an intimate wedding in her gorgeous backyard.

Moments after this photo Maddie quietly asked me if she could eat. I told her we’d eat as soon as the ceremony was over which would be in approximately 5 minutes. She threw her head back & sobbed. Then she sobbed & sobbed & sobbed to be sure we didn’t think she was messing around. She and I had a nice tour of the neighborhood after that.

Bea dozed through the ceremony.

We left right around here. It was a beautiful wedding and very moving to have been invited. We all loved Dave and are not just a little jealous of their upcoming honeymoon in Nepal. VERY happy for you both!

After the ceremony & some Bloody Mary’s it was off to the races. That’s right – Saratoga Race Track! We had an amazing lunch, drinks & watched the horses. G may have won some money. I have no idea how to bet on the horses – trifecta, exacta, superfecta…all I know is I need to do work on my bicepta(s). Do you know I just found out biceps is not spelled with a t? I am 41 years old and learned this yesterday at the gym. A lot of people would be embarassed to admit that.

The next day Dave’s parents had a cookout on Sacandaga Lake. Too bad it rained but we enjoyed it since we don’t get too much rain. Bea loved crawling around in the soaking wet grass.

G holding about 50 lbs of LG (Little Girl).

Another newlywed – Chris Daniels – who just married G’s sister

We headed for Northampton after a few days.

Bea turned 1 on the 7th.

1st Birthday breakfast in Amherst

Garsh – I meant to take a lot of pictures but it was raining and we were struggling with strollers & squirmy kids. We spent a night in Northampton at my alma mater. Jack & Patsy were shocked at how little I knew about the town etc. I became shocked after I saw how shocked THEY were! What was I DOING there besides driving a catering van around and eating skyrises of hummingbird cake, veggie strollers & tempeh??

I don’t know but whatever I was doing obviously didn’t involve academics.

Since it was so rainy, we stopped at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst. It was a dismal, dreary day. G and I empathized with that cold, miserable weather and the freshman dreads that go with it. All those unloved papers on Faulkner due Monday, Wednesday or Friday. Aggh. Don’t make me go back to school. And if you do, please do it in Hawaii or Barbados.

Anyway, the museum was the perfect birthday stop! We still had a 3+ hour drive ahead of us so we thought we ought to let the kids move around first.

These large paintings line the walls of the entrance and are intended to evoke something – a feeling of being in moving water, forest or the sun etc. And they DO!

There’s a library:

I'm 1 today!

Lookit what Maddie and I found in the bathroom! All you readers of “Polar Bear, Polar Bear” should recognize these…(Thanks Lib & Rachel for the Eric Carle books!)

I couldn't get over it!

There’s also an art studio:

Very kid friendly – well, it's a kids' museum after all.

There is a gorgeous little art gallery of childrens’ book illustrators. I could’ve stayed for hours!! Unfortunately (for me) and fortunately (for the illustrations) they didn’t allow photos there.

M and I checked out the bathroom ONE MORE TIME on the way out:

Finally, around 3 or 4PM we set out for Newburyport where we planned to visit my mom’s cousins and hopefully the family cemetery. We also planned to meet up with a friend from a long time ago when we got there but by now it was so late, we had to reschedule. That was a big disappointment since I haven’t seen her since my infamous Governor Dummer days but hopefully next summer…

3.5+ hours later, after driving through rush hour in the rain, we celebrated Bea’s first birthday with dinner in downtown Newburyport.

I didn’t notice Bea munching on a crayon until now! No wonder she didn’t want any cake.

Bea, you are the sweetest, silliest little girl with a toothy grin!! You’re absolutely into everything, exhausting & so much fun. We are so lucky to have you in our lives and we love you so much!! Happy Birthday little Beezy!!!

The next morning Jack & Patsy walked around Newburyport while G, M, B & I went to see Cousin Priscilla at her assisted living home. Her daughter Susan helped coordinate the whole think (lucky for us!) so we were able to join them for lunch.

Priscilla is my mom’s first cousin though she is 93 years old. She is sharp as a tack and full of stories. I wish I could’ve heard her better over the kids. We had lunch with her and then went up to her room. She had a little rocking chair out for Maddie to sit on.

After that we visited my mom.

And then showed Jack & Patsy the tombstone DIRECTLY ACROSS from my mom’s:

Maddie ran around…
…looked at brightly colored mushrooms:
until it was time to go see my mom’s other cousin – Natalea.

Natalea’s younger than Priscilla. She’s only 92. She gave us a tour of the downstairs of her quite historical house. Seeing how much I have moved throughout my life, it was fun and sad thinking of the Thanksgivings we spent there as children with all the adults “above” us, sheltering us from life, mostly gone. And to think of even 5-6 years ago when I was in Newburyport, riding in Natalea’s VW with Priscilla while they told me about which house various relatives lived in at which time and Priscilla’s family home which is now condos etc. Now they can’t get out to lunch and in the car as easily. Who, besides they, remember all the stories?

We were so rushed I didn’t have time to buy flowers for my mom. I want to go back next summer and stay in Newburyport for a week so I can see everyone longer and properly put flowers on my dear mom’s grave.

After visiting with Natalea for a few hours, we got our cranky nap-less kids into the car and headed to Cambridge to see Nina. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any photos b/c I left the camera in the car. It was a really fun visit because we also met up with Sheherazade and little Leo, Ian, and on Friday night, a friend from Londonttown – Renato – showed up. WOW!!! Nina took us in, fed us, and let us take over her bedroom, kitchen, bathroom & condo. Thank you, Nina! We had such a nice time and loved seeing you & catching a tiny glimpse of your life.

It was really a special trip and we are hoping to go back again soon!

Pasta Ponza


Did I mention how many tomatoes I have right now? What’s a person to do with all this bounty? Go to the farmer’s market and buy MORE cherry tomatoes b/c they’re such a good deal! And that’s just what I did.

Now, besides popping them in my mouth and eating one after another, what to do with them? Somebody send me this recipe for Giada De Laruentils’ Pasta Ponza. For some reason I keep calling it Pasta Ponzi but that’s not right. Anyway, I like this recipe because it’s easy, it involves the staple of my kids’ diet: noonels (otherwise known as noodle/pasta) and a ton of cherry tomatoes. Plus, I had all the ingredients handy.

and this!

These tomatoes are AMAZING!!! Not the tasteless things I get at Trader Joe’s which are imported etc. These are from a local farm and sooooo sweet & yummy!

Maddie ate some while I prepared them. Bea emptied the drawer of plastic containers & lids all over the floor. Then she leaned against the drawer closing it on her hand. Then she shrieked. When she was done shrieking, she went over & did it again.

- 4 c cherry tomatoes (or grape or whatEV you can get your hands on!)
- olive oil
- 1 lb pasta – the original recipe recommends tubular pasta but I didn’t have it so I used something curly
- 1/2 c breadcrumbs (seasoned Italian)
- 1/4 c capers (rinsed & drained)
- salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 c Pecorino Romano cheese (grated)
- 1/4 c chopped Italian parsley (I totally forgot this as you can see)

1. Set oven to 375 and grease a baking dish. I used a glass lasagna dish & sprayed with olive oil spray.

2. Cut all tomatoes in half. Try not to eat half of each one while doing that.
These tomatoes are good looking!

3. Toss in a large bowl (you can re-use this bowl at the end – save bowls!!) with the capers, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper. I’m not a stickler for measuring the oil, salt or pepper and you needn’t be either!

I just realized this looks kind of gross with the salted capers. Like hairy little eyeballs. Or something. Note to self: spoon salt to the side in a tidy pile next time.

Stir to coat tomatoes evenly. Much better!

4. Spoon into greased baking pan.
Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of tomatoes. Drizzle or spray olive oil on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

5. About 15 or 20 minutes into the baking, boil your water for the pasta.
NOTE: I forgot this both times but save 1 or 2 cups of the pasta water before you dump the pasta! You can use this later if your pasta needs it.

Some people can’t wait the 15-20 minutes remaining and have to be fed instant macaroni & cheese PRONTO.
And they’re STILL not happy.

6. Take out your baked tomato mixture.
I probably could’ve used more olive oil drizzled on top of the breadcrumbs.

7. After saving 1-2 c of your hot pasta water, dump your pasta out. Combine in the big bowl you used earlier with the baked tomatoes mixture. Add cheese & stir gently. Add some of that water you saved if your pasta needs it (if you think it’s too dry.) Add parsley if you remember to!

This is SO tasty! Both the kids liked it though not that night. Here’s what they did while we were waiting for the pasta.
and They did enjoy it for lunch the next day. It’s really easy and a lot tastier than jar sauce (though it does make more dishes to clean than jar sauce…) As always, I’d love to hear feedback below if you try this dish!

Pasta Ponza
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4

Beautiful, comfort-food, cherry tomatoes pasta dish. YUM!
  • Butter (pat)
  • 4 c cherry tomatoes (whatever you can get your hands on!)
  • ¼ c capers (rinsed & drained)
  • olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt (plus more to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ c Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 lb pasta (tube shaped is recommended)
  • 1¼ c grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¼ c chopped fresh parsley

  1. Set oven to 375 and grease a baking pan. I used a glass lasagna dish & sprayed it with olive oil spray.
  2. Halve all tomatoes.
  3. Toss in large bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper and capers. Coat tomatoes evenly in oil.
  4. Spread into baking pan.
  5. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil on top.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  7. About 20-25 minutes into the baking, boil your pasta water. **IMPORTANT: save 1 or 2 cups of the pasta water before you dump your pasta! You can use this later if your mixture is dry.**
  8. Combine tomatoes & pasta in a large bowl. Add cheese and parsley & combine gently. If your pasta seems too dry, add some of the pasta water that you saved!
  9. This heats up very nicely as leftovers too. YUM!


Camping Trip from Hell – Camping with kids

In the matter of a few months we found out our landlord wanted to sell the house we have been renting, so, rather than look for a new place, pack & move, we bought it, discovered we had TERMITES, cut a pesky avocado tree down before we could get the termite tenting done, exorcised a disgusting, overgrown, rat/possum den of a bird-of-paradise (thanks, Suzanne! NOT a banana tree as we boldly claimed) and then just went crazy and cut the hedges, gave the magnolia a buzz cut and the rest is history – the backyard went from a damp shady den of moist dog doo to the Sahara desert. (A few semi-colons probably would’ve worked nicely in that last passage, eh?)


LP: Sleepy!

(He’s cute!)

Avocado tree: AU REVOIR!

Nasty vermin filled bird of paradise: ADIOS!

Wait a minute? What’s that apartment building back there? I’ve never seen THAT before. D’OH!

There went our privacy & shade. But it’s worth it, right? Now we just need $700+ to remove the sap oozing stump.

But I digress…

In the course of all that we thought it’d be a good idea to go camping during the termite tenting. We didn’t want to go far on account of the backseat passengers and our nerves. So we drove up to Malibu – Pt. Mugu – and camped in our VW on the beach. Doesn’t that sound nice? Beach camping in Malibu? What could possibly go wrong?

Before camping we had to drop LP off at Cat Camp. He was excited about the early morning lake swims, hoisting the flag up the flagpole & archery.

His camp cost more than our camp site. That should’ve told us something.

This sign was posted in the door of the medical lab next door to the camp. Brilliant! I want to put this sign on my front door.

After discreetly tucking the Sit-N-Spin and Bop-It Extreme in my back pocket & getting back into the van, we headed up to the camp site with high hopes and a beach blanket.

Bea put her shades on.

Everyone got comfy in the van.

Our arrival. Looked pretty nice for car camping on side of PCH.
On the second level with the pop top up!

The view:

OK. Let’s go outside!

Bea can just sit on this nice blanket with a “toy.”

Maddie pretending to help with something. She is strongest at pretending to help.

Get back on the blanket, BEA!! Don’t eat sand, BEA! Don’t eat rockscigarettebuttsstringsplasticbbsrustybottlecapsfilthyurinesoakedsand, BEA!!!

Phew! At least Maddie is behaving. The wind picked up & blew the chairs over & anything else we had.

At least SOMEBODY stayed on the blanket!

This one’s for you, Lynchie!

The only way to keep Bea from putting everything in her mouth.

It looks nice in a photo in a brand new frame from Target but for how many hours is this really sustainable?

We give up. Let’s sit in the van. All 4 of us + the dog.

How many hours till bedtime?

Sand treasures:

Oops! That was all us!

One thing I cannot capture is the dusty filthiness of the sand. G advised everyone to wear shoes & socks and he couldn’t have been more correct.

After a sleepless night, we decided to high tail it out of there & possibly even find a better campsite for the second night. Everyone was grumpy.

We packed up

and high-tailed it out of there.

We drove to Ventura and ate at Toppers Pizza. I absolutely LOVED it!! Did I really love it or was I just so happy to be near hot water & soap, pizza and the chocolate chip pizza they claimed as their specialty? I don’t know and I don’t care.

On the way back we decided to take the scenic route through a canyon. It was warm and got warmer & warmer all the while. The girls fell asleep.

I tried to read.

What is an ague?

We kept driving.

We got out to stretch in a swarm of flies. We got right back in and drove right back to our same campsite from the previous night.

What I don’t have pictures of is the amazing cliffside playground/dog park G found high above the Pacific Ocean. Thank garsh, G!! We stayed there till around 7PM. Then it was back to the “beach.”

CIAO! And don’t say we didn’t leave you anything!

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Backpack

This afternoon I got smart and put the baby in the backpack when she got ornery.

I still had to work pretty quickly though! I remembered a really good sweet potato pancake recipe I made a longggggg time ago from the Moosewood Cookbook so I decided to make them and I’m glad I did. The ingredients list is VERY simple for these! They’re really tasty AND good for you and you can reheat the next day. I did alter the recipe by adding regular potatoes and I planned to add grated carrots until I realized I didn’t have any. ;)

You can also make them with just the sweet potatoes or yams if that’s all you have…

You’ll need these ingredients:

And some of these:

And this stuff:

Oh yeah and this:

That’s a lemon from my tree. Now, before you detect smugness on my part at having a lemon tree, please realize it’s a dusty old, rooty old, grumpy old neglected lemon tree that yields about 3 lemons per YEAR. So let me enjoy this lemon, will you?

1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes or yams
3 small potatoes (I had red potatoes so I threw them in just to use them up!)
1/2 onion
1 cup minced parsley
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/3 c flour
3 eggs (original recipe calls for 4 but I only had 3 and it worked out fine. 2 might even do.)
3-4 t lemon juice (I squeezed in about half a small lemon)
**NOTE: I would add 1 or 2 grated carrots if you have them!**

1. In a large bowl shred potatoes and onion (& carrots if you have ‘em) using food processor or the old fashioned way.

Keep going! Your arm will soon look like this:

Check on the kids every once in a while.

Fill up the compost!

2. Turn on heat in a seasoned skillet, large non-stick frying pan or electric skillet. (Basically, whatever you have!) Heat should be medium/high. If you use an electric skillet about 325 is pretty good.

2. Add flour, salt, lemon juice, pepper & parsley to bowl of shredded taters.

3. Beat eggs & add to potato mixture. Combine thoroughly.

4. Heat oil in skillet.

5. Plop large spoonfuls of the mixture into the skillet. Flatten with a spatula.

6. Fry until brown. Flip and add more oil as necessary.

Serve hot with sour cream, butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, apple sauce or anything else that appeals to you!

Bea loves these through her food mill!

Maddie didn’t share her sentiments.

These taste like mashed potatoes but are a lot lighter & would be great served with a fresh green salad!

One-armed Spicy Lemon Broccoli Pasta

Garsh! I’m going crazy with the summer recipes but that’s because I wasn’t eating the healthiest last week.

I call this dish “One-armed” because I had use of only one arm whilst making most of this, what seemed a simple dish. What was my other arm doing, you ask? My other arm was both holding and struggling with/battling, and trying to keep safe a very cranky 10 month old with 4 teeth coming in all on the same day.

Hey, wouldn’t that be a fun “Top Chef” challenge?

“You have 30 minutes to make a pasta dish involving chopped vegetables with a squirming 22 lb baby in one arm. You lose if the baby burns or cuts herself!”

I think I’ll suggest it to the folks at Bravo.

Shall we get down to it? I found this recipe on Vegan Yum Yum. Don’t worry if you’re biased against vegan food – this is so yummy (or should I say Yum Yum Yummy?) and simple that everyone will like it.

First, you need these things:

This recipe makes enough for 4 people. The original recipe was for 1 serving so I adjusted the amounts.
- dry fettucini noodles (1 box)
- 1 head broccoli OR a 12 oz bag florets
- 1 c sun dried tomatoes in oil
- crushed red pepper flakes
- salt to taste
- 1/2 of a lemon
- olive oil

Get your water boiling in a pot for the pasta.

Chop your broccoli florets pretty small. The original recipe says to chop them the size of a quarter but since they aren’t in the shape of a quarter and I am spatially challenged I just cut them “SMALL.”

Slice tomatoes unless yours are already sliced as mine were. (Thanks, Trader Joe’s!) These are oily buggers so I’m glad I didn’t have to mess with them.

Oh, by the way, I barely took any pictures b/c of the one arm thing. That and my battery keeps falling out of the camera.

Throw pasta into boiling water. Should take about 10-12 minutes. Salt the water to your liking.

When pasta has about 6 minutes remaining, heat wok or skillet to medium high heat. Pour in 2 tablespoons olive oil. When oil is heated, add broccoli florets. Stir constantly to coat florets with oil. Add oil if necessary. After about 2 minutes, add tomatoes and crushed red pepper to your liking. Cook another 2 minutes, stirring.

Drain pasta & add pasta to skillet/wok. Sprinkle juice from half a lemon and combine. Taste and add more crushed pepper, fresh ground black pepper or lemon juice as desired!

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