Category Archives: Family Adventures

A Fun Day of Food and Family

Sorry I haven’t written much in a while. Life gets busy! Lately I have been sharing quick Instagram posts. It takes a fraction of time to post a quick picture there, and can be done “in the moment.” Yet instant is fleeting and soon forgotten. And days like this last Sunday are meant to be savored and remembered.

San Diego Food - 1

Ever since Papa Bird and I flew the coop to celebrate the first anniversary of the fun restaurant/night spot Kettner Exchange, we have had a gift card to their side business, Devil’s Dozen Donuts. The donut shop shutters up once they sell out and every time I’ve been by we were too late to get any. I try to feed the kids a balanced breakfast, aka not pure, refined sugar. But I got the tip that on the weekend they make a secret menu item: a breakfast sandwich with eggs and bacon on an unglazed donut. It sounded healthier, right?

Devil's Dozen Donuts

We also selected a salted caramel and a Nutella hazelnut “sweet treat.” My plan was for us all to share everything. But Littlest Bird (age 2.5) said, “No, I don’t want to share! I want the whole thing!” Little Bird (age 4.5) said, “It’s too pretty to eat.”

Devil's Dozen Donuts

If you go, you can park for free in the Kettner Exchange valet spots. Don’t miss the view from the second story balcony. (I guess I didn’t take a picture, but we enjoyed the Jacarandas, planes, and boats.)

Next the girls and I rolled over to our favorite place to shop, Specialty Produce. The last time we were there, Littlest Bird thought it was hilarious to run away from me. Keeping kids close is a big rule there as it is a busy industrial warehouse, with forklifts, carts, and lots of people. She even ran past an “employee only” sign into the truck loading area. So this time I asked her if she would like to “go uppies.” We haven’t worn Miss Independent in any wraps or the Ergo in ages, but she thought it was a blast to go for a ride. Problem solved!

Specialty Produce - San Diego

Along with groceries for the week, we picked up a baker’s dozen of local corn from the Farmers’ Market cooler. We were headed to a potluck that night. Alright, I didn’t think I’d be sharing a recipe today, but here is one:

  • Soak corn in the husk in water for 10-30 minutes.
  • Grill for 20 minutes or so at 375*-400*.

Simple food, peak of season… the best way to eat.

soaking fresh corn for the grill

We also brought summer berries and stone fruit (all from local farms and found in the Farmers’ Market cooler) to share with our friends. Clockwise from the top in the picture below, Carmen Miranda nectarines, blackberries, Saturn peaches, Persian mulberries, and elderberries. The elderberries were quite tart. I later looked them up in the Specialty Produce App and learned elderberries are meant to be cooked. Technically they are considered poisonous raw (oops) but the toxicity level is pretty low.

summer berries and stone fruit from Specialty Produce

All of the pictures in this post were taken with an iPhone, with the exception of the following. I received a new camera for my birthday and have been trying it out. This is a preview for an upcoming post for a nectarine pie. Please hold me to it so I finish the new recipe before summer is over!

Carmen Miranda nectarines

And if that weren’t enough yumminess for one day, we sampled nearly half the menu at the soft opening of a new restaurant. Urban Plates is a smallish chain with nine locations throughout California. They focus on “from scratch” salads, braises, pastries and more, and highlight quality organic and natural ingredients. If you have been reading my posts, you know that’s how we like to cook and eat! See the current menu here.

Urban Plates La Jolla

From left to right: the urban kid plate with grilled free range chicken, roasted Brussels sprouts with turkey bacon, and chargrilled focaccia, served with organic apple juice. Seasonal replenisher (a watermelon and mint agua fresca.) The grilled steak salad with pineapple-mango salsa, jicama, mint, coconut roasted cashews, and a mild jalapeno lime dressing. Corn and poblano soup. Moroccan chicken braise (free range chicken slow cooked with squash, onions, preserved lemon, olives, turmeric, paprika, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, parsley, cilantro) with brown rice. Seasonal green drink. And finished with a chocolate dipped macaroon and a slice of famous mango tart. It was all delicious!

Urban Plates Mango Tart

Ah the famous mango tart! This dessert is what started it all… My co-worker was raving about the tart one night and then brought one in for us to share. The fresh mango is perfectly ripe and painstakingly shaped into flower petals. The cookie crust is crisp and not too sweet and the rum cream filling subtle. Perfection! My dad would’ve loved this dessert. I snapped the above pic and posted it on Instagram. I then started following @urbanplates and learned they are in the process of opening a new restaurant location in San Diego. Their community manager invited us to the soft opening. That’s the best of social media, right there! I almost forgot to add, all of the money collected at the opening went to St. Vincent de Paul’s. I used to work at the shelter for four years and was happy to have our money go towards the homeless and hungry after such feasting.

Melissa D'Arabian at Urban Plates La Jolla

As we enjoyed our lunch, I noticed that the woman next to us, eating with her daughters, looked awfully familiar. Turns out it was cooking show host Melissa D’Arabian. She comes across on TV as genuine and friendly, and she is even nicer in person. We met three of her four daughters, and learned her daughter Charlotte loves cooking with her. Little Bird, who has been cooking since before she could walk. See this post of her first recipe here. For more cuteness, see this short video of Little Bird at age 3. She also LOVES watching other kids cooking. We have already seen some of Charlotte’s videos, like this one.

Urban Plates La Jolla

We will be back to Urban Plates, and I will order the refreshing steak salad again. As for last Sunday, our feasting did not stop there. We ate very well at our potluck with good friends. I left my phone/camera in the backpack and enjoyed the company. You’ll have to take my word that the food was all delicious, homemade with love and authentic. Arroz con pollo from a Cuban, homemade tabouli, Caprese, Asian grilled drumsticks, cornbread and potato salad, various tequilas, wine, cheese, cake….  Never stop, my friends! Keep eating and enjoying life.

Please enjoy, too!

Devil’s Dozen Donut Shop

2001 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
619-780-0914
www.devils-dozen.com

Urban Plates La Jolla

(Opened yesterday)

8707 Villa La Jolla Dr
San Diego, CA 92037
858-263-0818
urbanplates.com/la-jolla/

Specialty Produce

1929 Hancock St., Suite 150
San Diego, CA 92110
800-221-9730
www.specialtyproduce.com

Picking Perfect Potatoes

Hanukkah started last Sunday. We had everything we needed for latkes, except for potatoes. In years past, we used Japanese sweet potatoes from our backyard for latkes, but this year’s potato harvest was slim. We could’ve run to any grocery store, but I thought it might be more fun to explore the Specialty Produce warehouse with the Little Birds. I figured we would find more potato varieties there, or at least something fresh and local.

hunting for potatoes at Specialty Produce

Specialty Produce is known for supplying the majority of the good restaurants in San Diego with fruits and vegetables. They also let the general public shop, seven days a week. That day it was just us, the most recent winner of MasterChef Claudia Sandoval (not to celebrity name drop or anything), and restaurant buyers in the warehouse. I had picked up Farmers’ Market Boxes there before, but this was our first time shopping the warehouse. After signing a liability release, the Little Birds and I were asked to put on gloves before touching any of the produce. The girls thought this was great. They were already dressed like princesses, so gloves only complemented their outfits.

We explored the organic section and the three large walk-in coolers, including the Farmers Market cooler, which is filled with finds from local farms. Tip: wear layers! It was a warm San Diego December day, and I froze in the cooler with just a sun dress on.

hunting for potatoes at Specialty Produce

Great success! We quickly found organic Russet and sweet potatoes. Diving into the Farmers Market walk-in, we discovered little purple potatoes from the Weiser Family Farms, and “Masquerade” potatoes. I had to look up the Masquerade potatoes on the Specialty Produce App – they are a yellow-fleshed potato, with purple skin, and a lighter gold coloring around the eyes. We also found these pretty potatoes with violet pink lipstick “kisses.” I tried to Google “kiss potatoes,” as the staff called them, but only found a Gene Simmons Mr. Potato Head… My best guess is that they are Klondike Royales.

We also stocked up on fruit, including super sweet, pink-fleshed Cara Cara oranges and crisp Shinko asian pears from Ken’s Top Notch Produce, Fuji apples from Fair Hills Apple Farm, and Pomegranate from Koral’s Tropical Fruit Farm. I kept checking our receipt for a mistake. The medium-sized bag of potatoes (above) and a large bag of fruit was only $12. Try spending only $12 for this quality of produce at a farmer’s market or Whole Foods!

purple potato latkes

We love our latkes! I fried them in avocado oil and served them with homemade applesauce, alongside Tri Tip from Seaside Market (aka Cardiff Crack), donuts and gelt.

For latke-making tips, see last year’s latkes and lox with home-smoked salmon. And for a yummy twist, our Brussels sprouts and sweet potato latkes from two years ago included cumin seeds. Yum!


Creative Mom and Kid Halloween Costumes

So, Little Bird and I did something super fun… We joined our friends in a photo shoot for Pottery Barn Kids! They sent us cute Halloween costumes for the kids and challenged us to pair them with creative costumes for the moms. You can see their feature here.

Creative mom and daughter Halloween costumes - Bee and Flowers

Photographer Chrissy Powers wore her 3-week-old newborn in a wrap and captured the fun. Update: You can see more of the fun on the Small Fry Blog.

Creative Costumes for Moms and Kids

I met Cassidy June in a breastfeeding support group when Little Bird (now 4!) and Cassidy’s daughter were brand new. If your child gravitates towards fairies, like this Gold Snow Fairy, an easy costume for mom is “Pixie Dust.” Grab any metallic dress out of your closet, sprinkle a little glitter, and have fun!

Creative Mom and Daughter Halloween Costumes - Fairy and Pixie Dust

Isobel of Bel & Beau reined with both her sons wearing the adorable dragon costumes from PBK. She wore a “Mother of Dragons” T-shirt from A Little Bundle (they also make the cute “Mama Bird” and “Baby Bird” shirts) and a long skirt. If you don’t “get it,” it’s a reference to the female lead in a Game of Thrones. My Little Bird was quite taken with her older son. They played together the whole day and were holding hands in the group shot above.

Creative Mom and Kid Halloween Costumes - Mother of Dragons and Baby Dragons

Here at Baby Birds Farm, we have been all about planting milkweed, Cleveland sage, and other pollinator-friendly plants in our backyard. Both of my girls love playing a game where we take turns playing a butterfly or bee. The other pretends to be a girl trying to entice the pollinator with flowers.

Abby of Baby Birds Farm and Little "Bee"

Little Bird had fun dressing up in the Bumblebee Tutu. (This idea would also work for butterflies and lady bugs.) I wore a flower crown and a dress Nikki of Je’Adore decorated with a hot glue gun. Wish I was crafty! It is not one of my strengths.

Creative Mom and Daughter Halloween Costumes - Bee and Field of Flowers

Little Bird decided herself to style her outfit with her tap shoes after I showed her the “Bee Girl” in the Blind Melon No Rain video.


Speaking of Nikki being crafty, I love the rain cloud she made out of an umbrella to shower her little rainbow. How cute are they?! Colorful rain boots and a rain jacket completed the fun.

Creative Mom and Kid Halloween Costumes - Rainbow and Cloud

Playing dress up was my favorite game as a kid. And back in the day I used to organize photo shoots when I was building my modeling portfolio. It was so fun to laugh and love my daughter, sharing one of my favorite activities.

Little Bee

She has had fun in the past on photo shoots for “Uncle Steve.” I want it to always be fun. I don’t see the need in pushing her to do more work for pay – not unless it is something she is asking for and is 100% enjoying.

field of flowers and a bee

I’m grateful to Emily who gave us all glamorous hair and makeup on behalf of 1011MakeUp. As mentioned above, all photos in this post are by Chrissy Powers and creative direction by Cassidy June.

playing with my little bee

For an idea on how to do Goldilocks and the Three Bears as an easy and inexpensive family costume, click here. Happy Halloween!

pixie dust

Pin the below image or your favorite above to Pinterest!

Four Mom and Kid Halloween Costume Ideas

Share in the comments: which is your favorite mom and kiddo costume combo?

Free Summer Fun in San Diego

I’m excited to spend extra time off work this summer with my “little birds.” We’ve been enjoying museums and parks, but they can start to add up. So I thought I’d share some of the free activities and fun I’ve found to do in San Diego this summer (2015.)

Free Summer Fun in San Diego.

Photo by Sarah Burvenich, via unsplash

1. Hullabaloo at the Waterfront Park

We caught the first of this series and loved it. If you have a little one and live in San Diego, odds are you have heard Hullabaloo play their fun, infectious “kid-folk.” Little Bird is in groupie status, having seen nearly 20 shows. I love the small intimate shows (see number 2), but nothing beats a summer evening outside in San Diego. Skip the hot midday concerts, and bring a picnic dinner and a blanket. I won’t tell anyone if you have an adult beverage in your thermos.

Remaining dates are July 19, August 30 and September 27. Activities by Kid Ventures start at 5:30 pm, music by Hullabaloo starts at 6:00 pm, and the park is open all day. Go early to let the kids play in the fountains, on the playground equipment and friction hill we call the “North Mountain” at the Waterfront Park.

Hullabaloo at Waterfront by Chiles Photography

Photo by Natalie Chiles Photography, via Hullabaloo

Other free outdoor shows are planned for Solana Beach, Belmont Park and Mission Hills. Check the Hullabaloo calendar for dates and info.

2. Free Music at San Diego Libraries

If you enjoy smaller music shows for kids, nothing is better than catching Hullabaloo at your neighborhood library. Steve, Hullabaloo’s lead vocalist and guitarist, played our library last week. Little Bird told me she most wanted to hear the songs “Little Bird” (no relation) and “Run Bunny Run.”

Watch this video to see my Little Bird flapping her wings to Hullabaloo:

During the smaller shows, shy kids, like mine, have room to bounce between dancing up front and returning back to “home base” (their parents.) Check your local library for their lineup. To catch Hullabaloo, subscribe to their emails, or check their calendar.

3. Summer Reading Prizes from the San Diego Library

Speaking of the library, while we were there we signed up for their summer reading program. The incentives are awesome! As long as your little (or you and your little) read 10 books or for 10 hours, you are guaranteed a full list of free passes and meals. Here is the list for children aged 3-11:

  • Flute/Recorder or Inflatable Guitar
  • San Diego Zoo Pass
  • San Diego Air & Space Museum Pass
  • San Diego Natural History Museum Pass
  • Ruben H. Fleet Science Center Pass
  • Free Kid’s Meal at Chipotle
  • Free Kid’s Meal at Daphne’s
  • Free Kid’s Meal at Wendy’s
  • Free Kid’s Meal at Rubio’s
  • Free Round Table Personal Pizza

Seeing as how it can take 10 books to get to sleep any given night, we are looking forward to returning to some of the museums I didn’t think we could afford. You can sign up online here. The Summer Reading program runs June 15th – August 15th and is completely free. There are also programs for infants/toddlers, teens and adults.

Go enjoy your summer!

What are your favorite free fun things to do during summer in San Diego with kids?

7 Ways to Celebrate Strawberry Season

To celebrate Papa Bird’s birthday this year, the four of us went strawberry picking again. Strawberries are in peak season and are super sweet. We picked a flat of strawberries and enjoyed them every which way in the week that followed. Here is a round-up of ways to celebrate strawberry season.

organic u-pick strawberries from suisie's farm

First: Go strawberry picking!

strawberry picking at suzie's farm

Susie’s Farm is still our favorite place to pick. The berries are organic and a super sweet variety (Albion.) The above flat was $36. We also met up with some of Little Bird’s friends since she was a little baby. My mama tribe has such a close place in my heart. We are all so busy these days, so it was nice to reconnect with a few.

My heart just about melted seeing Little Bird running with two of her friends… and “Littler Bird” chasing after them.

2. Strawberry, Dark Chocolate and Brie Grilled Cheese

strawberry, dark chocolate and brie grilled cheese

Melt a little butter on a griddle or pan, add bread layered with thick slices of brie cheese, sliced strawberries, and shaved dark chocolate. Top with another piece of bread, flip and enjoy the messy, gooey, tangy warmth.

 

3. Strawberry Balsamic Pizza

strawberry balsamic pizza

The farm stand at Suzie’s had par-baked flatbread from Sadie Rose, which made me think semi-homemade pizza would be an easy dinner. I didn’t yet have the strawberry jam made, but inspired by the recipe in the link, I cooked down a cup of ripe strawberries, balsamic vinegar and sriracha for the sauce. Yum!

4. Top and fill a cake with strawberries

chocolate cake with strawberries

Little Bird loves baking as much as me. For Papa Bird’s birthday we made a chocolate sponge cake with chocolate orange buttercream frosting. Can you guess how old he turned? The filling was strawberry jam and whipped cream. Other cakes just begging for strawberries: Baby Bird’s Healthy Smash Cake, and Tres Leches.

5. Strawberry Shortcake and (healthier) Chia Strawberry Shortcake Parfait

Chia Strawberry Shortcake Parfait with Very Vanilla Pudding

We took slightly sugared, sliced strawberries up to my sister’s along with shortcakes and cream. It was easy to assemble traditional strawberry shortcakes and a sweet way to celebrate my niece’s birthday.

For a slightly healthier take, try this parfait version which features vanilla chia pudding. If you are mindful of the sugar you add, it easily doubles as both breakfast and dessert.

 

 

6. low-sugar strawberry jam

canning strawberry jamSugar helps fruit break down and get softer, but is not necessary for preserving. If you cook the fruit long enough, it will still get soft. You can also use honey, or another sweetener. Pectin isn’t needed, either! Using super sweet berries, all you need is a little lemon juice. This year I overcame my fear of my steam canner, and canned for the first time.

7. green strawberry pickles

green strawberry picklesIf you love the idea of adding home-fermented foods to your diet, green strawberry pickles are an easy way to start. My kids like them, too.

Here’s a bonus way to try them: Strawberry Salmon Salad with Green Strawberry Pickles.

Canning the pickles and jam is a classic way to extend strawberry season. Having produce preserved is a great way to enjoy produce at its peak all year round.

How do you like to enjoy strawberry season?

Please share your ideas and link your recipes in the comments!