Nintendo Saved Our Halloween

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When Nintendo asked if they could send us Halloween in a box, I jumped. That same day, Rocket had said that he couldn't wait until next Halloween because then the construction would be done, and we'd be able to decorate for Halloween. I love decorating for the holidays and try to go all out to make it special for the kids, so his observation, followed up with a question that I cannot answer of whether we'll be able to decorate for Christmas, stung. 

Nintendo saved us, like Mario to our Princess Peach. Too much? 

The excitement was back in our holiday. We handed out Nintendo-themed gummies and other candies to friends and classmates, wore a Boo hat, and later a Luigi costume. Cleverly carved pumpkins with Mario and Boo arrived too, but unfortunately didn't survive. That was the only downer. The kids loved having something extra special on Halloween and I was incredibly thankful to Nintendo. 

Both kids hit their fill of houses last night, but it was oddly quiet out with fewer kids as in past years. Though, even that had an upside: we have enough candy to hand out at school for our upcoming birthdays. Bob-ombs for everyone!

Disclosure: The candy, decor, and costumes were provided by Nintendo for free. All opinions are my own. #NintendoEnthused

Kiwi Caipirinha, the CA Grown Fruit Makes it Good

Thank you to California Grown for encouraging me to connect with California growers and encouraging California consumers to "Choose California Grown" when they can.

Tippytoes-kiwis

I was told to expect a box of kiwis, but when I opened the door to see two crates awaiting me, I was surprisingly excited. They were adorable, full of so much potential, and fresh from the farm up in Gridley.

My kids both love kiwis, even picky Clover loves the sweet, sometimes tart taste of kiwis, so it's a regular staple in our house during their growing season. The odd thing is I never had a kiwi as a child, in fact when I was first offered one in college (!), I didn't know what to do with it (again – !). Now, I peel them, slice them, and put them out on a plate for a snack or I toss one into the blender with frozen strawberries and orange juice for a smoothie. But two boxes of kiwis called for something more exciting.

First, I opened the boxes up to let the kiwis ripen. Normally I buy kiwis fairly soft at the store because the kids will want to eat them as soon as they see them. But, like an avocado, if I need them for a later event, I buy a still hardened kiwi. For a fast ripening, they can be placed in a paper bag with a few apples (same trick works for avocados).

The boxed kiwis ripened just in time: this is my snack week for my son's class. I think I brought in 17 kiwis yesterday, enough for one per kid. Yay me!

Second, once ripe, I decided to make one of my favorite kiwi cocktails: a kiwi caipirinha.

Tippytoes-kiwipeeler

Third, I took out the potato peeler and peels two kiwis. Many people cut the kiwis in half and scoop out the green kiwi meat, but I like my potato peeler method.

Finally, I made the drink because nothing says Christmas like a green cocktail.

Tippytoes-kiwidrink

The kiwi caipirinha is a cachaça-based drink that was printed in Sunset magazine, and if you're familar with cachaça, you know that a little goes a long way…toward knocking you out. Maybe I'm a wimp, but I've toned down the Sunset version to add a little more lime and kiwi to balance out the super strong alcohol.

My version:

Tippytoes-drinkingredients

Kiwi Caipirinha

  • 1+ limes (start with one, keep extra on hand if needed for taste or as garnish)
  • 2-3 kiwis
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup cachaça
  1. Juice the limes into a glass
  2. peel and slice the kiwi, adding to the lime juice
  3. muddle them up
  4. add sugar and muddle some more
  5. add cinchaca and ice
  6. stir and taste

Taste! Do not serve yet because this is when you decide if a pinch more sugar is needed, maybe more kiwi or a squeeze more lime. Once set, pour into two glasses and serve. I've also made a pitcher of these before because they're good and they're different, making it something people want to try. It was our Superbowl 2011 drink and has since become a regular feature during kiwi season.

If cachaça is not your thing, this kiwi mint lemonade sounds heavenly.

My cousins are orange growers in Central California and because of that, I've always had a sense of pride of how much various agriculture is grown in Califonia and I always check the labels on my fruit. When I was younger, it was to see if the oranges in the grocery store came from my cousins' farm, but as I got older and had kids, it was for a different reason. Buying fruit and vegetables grown in California means it travels less to get to me, is fresher, and there is a reassurance knowing the controls placed on California agriculture protecting us from the uncertainty that comes with less regulated foreign produce.

Oranges – indirectly – paid to put me through college. Farmers have families and employees, which is no surprise, but there are communities built around the local agriculture industry. To support a farm is more than supporting one person or one family's business, it's supporting a greater infrastructure. I like to take the kids to the farmer's market to see the farmers or their families selling what they grow. It gives my kids a story behind what's on their plates.

I loved that when my beautiful kiwis arrived, I didn't know anything about Gridley, but I looked online and not only found where the kiwis came from, but I learned about the family who grew them (and I got to see a kiwi orchard too). My kiwis were grown by the Kullar family, and I love that Jasbir Singh Kullar, the father and farm-founder, immigrated from India and worked a migrant farmer worker before starting his own farm that has grown from 1.5 acres to over 300 acres and various facilities.

Easily, 95% of the produce my family consumes come from California. I can say that with certainty because predominantly we buy locally grown food, and when at the store, I take the time to look at the labels for CA Grown. In addition, our grocery store often lists the originating town on the sign displaying the food price, but if the signs aren't there, it's easy to ask where the produce was grown. I am so proud to support the Kullars and other California farmers.

Thank you again to California Grown for sponsoring this blog post. Please click here to learn more about all of California Grown growers. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own. #CleverCAGrown #spon

Reframing the Season

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Behind me, my kids are playing some sort of school or dysfunctional family, which requires picking new names. Clover said, "Let's pick places for names because some people do that. My name is Pakistan, short for Pakistanley."

A Hug to Start December

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Wouldn't you know, after spending yesterday writing about my Grinchy attitude toward gratitude, the first photo prompt of December is gratitude. I cannot win. I thought about being grateful for being warm and inside on a blustery day (maybe a picture of Winnie the Pooh in the leaves?) or thankful for the hard workout at the gym (maybe a photo of my shoes?), it came down to late in the evening, in the dark, when Rocket came to hug and kiss me goodnight. While this kid can raise my blood pressure with minimal effort on his part, hugging him is the best antidote. It's my favorite.

He hugged me in my office, while I was working, but didn't want to stay around for me to take a photo. I had to find him, already in bed, with my iPhone for a quick shot. It was dark, so the photo is grainy and blurred, but the upside is that I got an extra hug.

Thirty

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I think about this every day. Found on Pinterest, but I couldn't locate original source.

Sometime this year – or maybe it was last – I started making a point of finding one good thing each day. My thought was to photograph the good, but soon I realized that a lot of the time, things happen while I'm driving, which isn't the safest time to snap away. I'm glad I dropped the photo idea because most of the beauty is fleeting, which is what makes it so beautiful. Taking out the camera and trying to capture it would mean I'd miss it, most of the time at least. The most surprising thing was that once I'd opened myself up to this thought, how often grace or beauty would appear.

Today it was perfectly scattered coffee beans on the top of the espresso machine at Starbucks, deeply contrasting against the silver and grey top of the machine, and fresh from our CSA, a bunch of purple kale that looked ready for a vase instead of the produce drawer.

Tippytoes-purplekale

This is why I was even more surprised this month, as I set out to be mindful of the good around me and be grateful for it every day, that things were mostly grumbly and dreary. There were good times and beautiful things, but the overall outlook of the month was blah. I don't know if it's the early darkness or the relentless pummeling of responsibility, but my god, I hope December is better. I want to pause my to-do list for awhile, especially because I've been pretty crappy at accomplishments lately. Today alone I: paid a mortgage we no longer have; failed to get a clean change of clothes to school, so after Rocket trudged through muddy water, he had to borrow bright flowered pants from a female classmate; and somehow failed to quit piano lessons for Clover without getting dinged for another month. That doesn't include the work the didn't get done, Christmas cards unordered, Christmas trees not decorated, and myriad merda.

The every day posts are not over, partially because I have a ton of stuff I am supposed to write about, but also because I'm participating in a daily holiday photo guide that will hopefully help me get my photo jojo back while appreciating the holiday details before they pass in a blur.

Rocket handed us an envelope from school on Thanksgiving that included the many things he was thankful for, and it ended with this:

Thanks to myself for being really kind to others and not punching them.

I've been kind and I haven't punched anyone either, which means maybe November was a success after all.