these are my absolute favorite brownies.  i make them probably once a week.  they are so soft and moist.  everyone i make them for loves them.  i promise they’ll be a favorite.  they are not super chocolaty which i love.  they are so easy and delicious you will never make boxed brownies again.  try them out.


line up of ingredients


i like to chop my own pecans.  i think they have more flavor that way


bake for 30-35 minutes depending on your oven. i like mine a little more on the raw side so i cook them closer to 30



In a bowl mix
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
1 c. butter

4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

then by hand mix in (stir until just combined, do not over mix)
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt

top with
3/4 chopped nuts

pour batter into a greased 9×13 pan
top with nuts
bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes

for a more chocolatey brownie sprinkle chocolate chips on top along with the nuts



at our new school we don’t get the usual october break.  instead we get 2 days off in october and an entire week off for thanksgiving.  great for people who have family in other states to travel to for the holidays.  not so great for those of us who love to travel but don’t love to miss holidays with our family here in az.  we decided to ditch out on thanksgiving and head up to seattle.  we were in mexico for halloween.  i don’t suggest missing both holidays.  the kids had fun while we were gone and when we got home they all said ok we are ready for halloween or thanksgiving and i felt pretty bad telling them we weren’t celebrating.  anyways we did have so much fun in seattle and decided to head up to vancouver too.  i highly suggest you go if you haven’t been.  its beautiful.  so so clean.  the air is clean the streets are clean.  and the people are just really cool.  really its one of my top favorite cities.
of course the day we landed it rained.  hard.  the next day we woke up elle was swollen and had a rash everywhere.  oh no biggie it was just scarlet fever.  what?!  who gets scarlet fever?  she got on antibiotics and they kicked in right away.  she was a new woman by the next morning.  oh and the others had strep, so antibiotics all around.
we tried japa-dog.  i do not recommend it!  now i was told it was gross but then the reviews! the reviews are sooo good i had to try it anyways.  so i did and we all regretted it.  the hot dog, especially the pork is so fatty and the dogs are thick and too meaty like a bratwurst.  the worst part is the seaweed on top.  it tastes like a fish hotdog.  $30 later and 4 un-eaten hotdogs i advise you not to go or if you really really want to get one hot dog share it, throw it out after you taste it and call me so we can laugh at how bad it is.  its that bad.  sorry for the rant.  on to the next.  these boys are the cutest.  this is probably what spread the strep throat.  weird thing about my kids and strep, they don’t show any symptoms.  no fever no soar throat no aches, pains.  nothing.  just tiny little red dots on their face and only like one or two.  its weird.
the fish and chips we ate at a small restaurant i think it was in port angeles.  you know when you bring your kids into a restaurant and they seat you next to the older couple who doesn’t have kids with them and you want to crawl under the table and hide cause your kids are noisy and your baby is trying to crawl on the table.  well that was us.  i didn’t even want to make eye contact with the people next to us in this tiny restaurant.  they finished before us and walked out, we never exchanged words.  and then when ivan went to pay they had already payed our bill and left a 50% tip.  i was so shocked and surprised i wanted to cry.  i wondered had they once been us?  the noisy kids and now some 50 years later their kids are grown and the chaos is a little remembrance of those days.  such nice people in this world, that do generous things wanting nothing in return.  no pat on the back. no thank you. nothing.  i think about those people often and how someone you don’t know can touch your life so much.
all those feet in that picture.  they’re all mine.  that puts a smile on my face.

elle’s swollen face.  that poor girl is a trooper and i mean it.  barely complains, always smiles and has a great attitude.  i think we could all learn a little something from her.  henri braided my hair while we sat at urgent care.  boredom does strange things to you.  the cobblestone streets and brownstones in vancouver are real good. funny and really really gross.  the kids rode their first ferry.
pukers in the front non pukers in the back

 there’s my city.  really there are only two cities that make my heart swell.  seattle and san fran.  those both hold so many special memories.  and lets be honest both are totally rad and i could live in either in a heart beat.

a laughable attempt at taking your own family pictures
the glamorous side of traveling.  this makes me laugh cause this is so true.  behind all the fun and great pictures for the album is this.  tired exhausted and way too much luggage.  how do we manage to get all this from the car into the airport?  i still don’t know.

and el charro.  this seems to be a running theme with us and traveling.  we land and head straight to el charro.  we typically do not eat mexican food when we travel.  unless of course we are in mexico.  then its tacos el poblano for every single meal.  anywhere else we skip it.  i know it will never be as good as what we have in arizona.  el charro after you land is always a good idea, i think i’ll keep the tradition.



we headed back down to mexico for halloween.  we were on the fence about going or not.  we are going to be out of town for thanksgiving and i don’t want them to miss every holiday.  of course it sounded fun but would the kids be bummed to not trick or treat?  ultimately we all decided a weekend of fun was worth missing out on a night of candy.  plus i always take the candy away and throw it out the next day so they weren’t missing much.  we don’t need any cavities around here.  i brought down a box of full sized candy bars and assured them our candy was better than anything they would get trick or treating anyways.  i hid the candy around the condo and we did a scavenger hunt a few times.  they had a lot of fun with it.  elle has asked a few times when we are going trick or treating.  i do feel bad for her, she was sick last halloween so she didn’t go out then either.  next year we will stay home but i am happy with the memories we made this year.

oh tacos el poblano i could eat you everyday and not get sick of you.  thats exactly what we did.

have you heard of kinder eggs?  my kids are fascinated with the girl on you tube who opens egg after egg showing you the toy thats inside.  apparently they’re too dangerous for the good ole u.s. of a but not for mexico.  we stocked up.  and yes they are a choking hazard, jack tried to put the little hamster that came inside his in his mouth.  no worries i got it from him before her devoured it.  oh and that sleeping picture of jack has nothing to do with kinder eggs i just love his fat face!
these four are really mine!  all mine.  well ivans too.  but they don’t think so.  they think they’re biologically mine since they came from my belly and ivans just some nice guys who came in and was like sure i’ll take care of you and your four kids.  what a guy. but really he is a great guy.
halloween was super crazy windy.  like what i would have thought hurricane winds were made of.  but what do i know i live in arizona, no natural disasters here.  then poor jack got stung by a bee.  3 of my kids have been stung by a bee in the last 4 months.  i thought bees were on the decline or something.  apparently not, most of them hang out at our house.  i was a little nervous wondering if he might possible be allergy.  checks out that he’s not.  now we just need ava to get stung and we’ll have the whole bunch.  I’ve always seen kids screaming and crying and flipping out over bee stings.  i guess they’re not as painful as i thought or i just have super human kids.  none of them have really cried.  jack started scratching his arm, as you can see.  henri didn’t shed a tear he just came in the house said i was stung by a bee and i pulled out the stinger.  he really is a freak of nature. like can give 8 vials of blood without flinching.  the phlebotomist are always impressed when they ask if we want two people to hold him down and we say no.  now i think he might actually cry if two strangers came in and pinned him down.  (he has all sorts of allergies thats why he’s constantly giving blood) and elle got stung when she touched a bee on the ground.  i wasn’t home but when i got home she didn’t say much.  anyways enough rambling about bees.  mexican breakfast is the best breakfast and a massage on the beach trumps all other massages anywhere ever!




i saw these little tassel door hangers online and have been wanting to make them.  they’re a great project to work on with the kids.  these might be taking over my house soon.


i sewed a million pillows.  alright not a million but 12.  once i started i couldn’t stop until every pillow had a new cover on it.  guess i was feeling extra crafty today.
ivan made some jalapeño cheese bread.  dang it, is that stuff good!  we gave a loaf to the neighbors so we didn’t eat it all.
look at all that cheese!!  i love cheese.tacos for dinner because we eat tacos for dinner at least once a week.  i told you we eat too much mexican food.

and then we played in the backyard because we could.  because the weather wasn’t too awful and the kids especially jack loves being outside.  look at jacks pink big toe.  i painted elle’s nails and he wanted some too.  so he got one toenail.  the big toe no less.

and this right here is why sundays are so good.  our church time is good right now too.  so im enjoying it until they switch us.  i can’t wait for the weather to change and the holidays to come.  please tell me i’m not the only one planing halloween costumes.



i am so claustrophobic.  i hated every minute of the subway and the elevators but i rode them and i think maybe just maybe i’m getting over this fear.

this crowd goes nuts for jeter.  his song big poppa by notorious b.i.g. comes on and they all stand up and start cheering.  every single time.  their love runs deep.

our tickets came with access to the audi club.  you can eat at a ridiculous buffet of lobster and steak and enjoy complete silence. there is no noise from the game whatsoever.  sounds like no fun to me.  gimme a hotdog and a pepsi and i wanna hear the crowd go wild.  my night wouldn’t have been complete without hearing notorious sing in his hometown.

on our way to the yankees vs red sox game.  in our yankees attire naturally.  i actually love boston and would normally cheer for the red sox but i thought id spare myself this time.
we looove a good dumpling.  joes shanghai did not disappoint.  i’d say its a close runner up to din tai fung.

central park and john lennon.  lots of people with their sad face on and a singer on a bench doing his best rendition of strawberry fields.

oh levain bakery i live for your cookies.  they really are the best.  we only made one visit this trip.  the last time we were there i think i got a cookie after every meal.  worth the trip to the uws.

man the front camera on the iPhone is crap.  but ya gotta get a pic with your better half when its 10 at night and you aren’t asleep or have 4 kids with you.  it felt good to chat on a park bench with not a single thing to do or place to be.

look at her all lit up like that.

eataly was good.  we sat at the bar which is basically the kitchen and it was pretty hot.  if you ask ivan he would say really really hot.  he doesn’t love humidity i on the other hand didn’t mind it one bit.

oh brooklyn you stole my heart.  i’d live in brooklyn any day of the week.

russ and daughters because my dad’s russ and he only has daughters and because their belly lox was so salty i didn’t even have to add salt.  that never ever happens.

st. patricks under major renovation but just as beautiful as always.

anybody else remember 9 by design.  loved that show.  why isn’t it still on??

i declare joes pizza the best in new york.  i bet a lot of people would agree with me.

georgetown cupcakes.  i got the vanilla.  i always get the vanilla.  it was pretty good, small but good.  the service on the other hand not so good.  the girl ringing up looked like she just crawled out of a bad bender and was no help at all.

i discovered city bakery this trip.  the pretzel croissant… don’t even get me started and that chocolate chip is up there with levain.  see, i told you all we did was eat.




we haven’t taken a vacation without the kids since the last time we went to new york.  my sister was supposed to babysit but last minute elle got chickenpox and we couldn’t have her tiny baby around elle.  so i found a last minute neighbor girl that turned out to be a total disaster.  like left my three kids with her 16 year old brother whom id never met so she could go to a party and lied to me about it kind of bad.  needless to say i’ve been scared to leave ever since.  that compiled with jack, i swore id never leave again.  up until the day we left i still wasn’t sure if we should just bring him.  we decided to go just us.  heaven knows we needed it after the last year we’ve had.  i’m so happy we went.  my mom watched the kids so we knew they were safe and could relax and enjoy ourselves.  this was my third time in new york so we skipped past some of the touristy stuff and did a lot of eating.  i mean a lot.  we also did a lot of walking.  hopefully it balanced out a little bit.
the new york library is beautiful.  i mean look at it.  our pitiful library has nothing on this.  i really really love the history and architecture nyc has to offer.

this was the first time we actually went inside grand central station.  its beautiful i don’t know why its taken me this long to step foot inside.

the view outside our room was amazing and shake shack because shake shack is always a good idea.

doughnut plant never disappoints.  i always get the coco nut cream.  the pb&j and the banana peanut butter is good too.

the flatiron building is my absolute favorite.   we wandered rockefeller center along with a million other people.  new york is just so different than where we live.  these building are crazy big and every time i go i forget just how big they really are.

i had to take a picture of the room.  its about three times bigger than any hotel I’ve ever stayed at in new york.  the last time we went the bed just about touched the walls on both sides.

fishs’s eddy is a great place to get lost in.  i would have bought the whole store if i could’ve fit it in my suitcase.

little italy,  zeppole’s and cannoli’s.  enough said.

the best place for cannoli’s in little italy.

cafe habana corn on a stick

this was my first time eating at katz and i wasn’t super impressed.  the lines are long, the guy didn’t even let me finish my sentence before he cut me a pastrami sandwich when i was trying to say pastrami reuben.  sandwich wasted, his bad i guess.  and i think carnagie deli is a million times better.  their payment system is dumb.  is you lose your blue ticket plan on paying $50 if you want to be let out of the store.  i read all the bad reviews but went against my better judgement and tried it anyways.  oh well, the sandwich was decent.

first knish, wasn’t bad.

ice cream cone covered in rice krispies.  ill take it!  i took close to a thousand picture so ill post the second half tomorrow.



i helped my sister plan a surprise birthday party for my brother in law over the weekend.  it turned out really great.  i love planning parties and she doesn’t so it was a lot of fun for me.  my dad has a million old cars and jack went up to the camaro he drove to the party and put his hand on it like he was posing for a car ad.  i’m glad i snapped a pic of him doing it, made me laugh.  how many times can one baby fall backwards and hit their head in one day?  jack exceeded the limit by at least one hundred and twenty seven times.  i took elle on a date. first we had to put on piles of makeup then we made our way over to build a bear to spend an obscene amount of money on a pony and her new wardrobe.  this pony has a better closet than i do.  oh and a baby for her of course.  so two ponies.
we then came home and found out that jack can fit in pony clothes and all had a good laugh.  he didn’t like the hoof shoes so much.  we drove up to globe for the day to eat a delicious meal of what else, mexican food.  el ray is worth the drive.  i took elle and jack outside while ivan and the kids finished up.  a bee chased us up and down the street at least nine times.  i couldn’t help but laugh as i pushed the stroller with elle hanging on for dear life screaming.  we ran past the window back and forth and i can only imagine what everyone inside was thinking.  hopefully they laughed as much as i did.


waffle trucks are on every corner these days.  the waffles are really good but the lines are really long and it costs me a small fortune to feed my family waffles.  so after finding several ideas I came up with a recipe.  it’s super easy and tastes identical to what you can buy at the truck.

line up of ingredients

what your yeast mixture should look like

dough after everything is combined

cover and let rise


3/4 cup heavy cream (heated)
2 T. warm water
1 1/2 t. sugar (for yeast mixture)
2 t. instant yeast
1 cup butter (softened)
2 T. sugar
1 T. brown sugar
2 eggs
3 T. honey
3 t. vanilla
4 cups flour
1 box pearl sugar (i get the sugar from ikea but its swedish and a little smaller you can order the belgian on amazon)

heat cream in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes until hot, let cool until warm to the touch.  add 1 1/2 t. sugar, water and yeast to the cream.  stir to combine and let yeast rest until it foams up.

in another bowl beat butter and sugars.  add eggs, vanilla and honey. beat together then add yeast mixture.  place in kitchen aid using dough hook and add flour 2 cups at a time.  cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for at least 3 hours up to 24 hours.  knead in pearl sugar. separate into 12 balls and cook until golden brown.

we top ours with cookie butter, berries and a spoonful of homemade whipped cream.  i make the dough and leave it on the counter overnight and cook them up in the morning to make breakfast time quick and easy.  my kids think i’m the greatest when i make these.



I haven’t been cooking much lately.  Between my stinky diet and it being so hot the last thing I want to do is cook.  I grew up on simple meals.  Chicken, salad, chicken, salad.  In that rotation.  Then I got married and he grew up on a gourmet 5 course meal every night of his life.  That’s a lot to live up to for a girl who considered tater tots an acceptable dinner.  If you know my mother in law or her family you know everything they make is amazing.  My mother in law owns a bakery and her sister a catering company.  The food is delicious and not complicated.  Over the years I’ve learned to really love to cook and bake.  I enjoying making good food and I enjoy feeding that good food to family and friends.  So I thought I ‘d share what I made for dinner last night.  Its not a family recipe.  Just a super easy taco recipe I whipped up before I headed to my trainer.  Best part was the kids LOVED them, they haven’t stopped talking about them.  They came home from school and asked if I’d make them burritos with the left over chicken. 
I put two chicken breasts in a crock pot with a small can of diced green chilies.  Then poured about 2 cups of chicken stock over the top and the some garlic salt.  Turned it on high for 4 or 5 hours and once I could shred it I turned it to low to keep it warm until dinner.  If it seem dry at any point add a little more chicken stock.  I then shredded cheese and cut up our favorite veggies.  Have you tried the green olives in the can from Trader Joe’s?  They’re similar to black olives but better!  Ive been making a big batch of salsa every Sunday so we have it throughout the week.
The salsa recipe is adapted from my father in law.  I don’t measure, just throw in what I like.  In a food processor put about 1/4 of an onion, 2 jalapeños, cilantro, 1/2 cup tomato juice.  Blend that up. In another bowl I put a 27 oz can of diced tomatoes, another cup of tomato juice, 3 green onions diced.  Pour the blended mix in the bowl.  Add garlic salt, salt and pepper to taste.  I really like cilantro so I rough chop a little more and toss it in.  This recipe is super simple and the best salsa I’ve ever tasted.  Add more of what you like and less of what you don’t.
For dessert we had Joe Joe’s (Trader Joe’s version of an Oreo) and chocolate milk. This was Jacks first time and he thought they were pretty great.  I mean come on, he pulled it apart and ate it like a pro!
Chicken Tacos
2 chicken breasts
1 small can green chilies
2 cups chicken broth
garlic salt
1/4 of an onion
2 jalapeno’s (more if you like it spicier)
1/2 cup tomato juice
27 oz. can of diced tomatoes
3 green onions
garlic salt to taste
salt and pepper to taste


i have to admit i don’t think southern cali has the best food but it is one of our favorite places to beach so we end up there a lot.  we sort of rotate through the same few spots.  here’s my list of favorites.
T.K. Burgers
– big bargain special
– side of onion rings
– make sure you ask for a side of their sauce to dip your fries and onion rings in
– their breakfast is pretty good too
i don’t know why but I don’t like the mission viejo location so go to any of the others.
Big Belly Deli in newport beach
across the pch from newport beach.  perfect for ordering and taking over to the beach
– i always order the rajun cajun, it’s chicken and sausage with peppers and melted cheese.  kinda spicy and really good.
– i get the kids a turkey sandwich on squaw bread, really good
– get the side of macaroni salad
Ajisen Ramen irvine
– oh i dream of spicy pork ramen.  its just so so good.
– my kids love the regular pork ramen
walk over to 85c after dinner at ajisen ramen.  its in the same complex.  this taiwanese bakery is amazing.  i don’t even know what the name is of the pastry i get, its a puff looking pastry in what looks like a large cupcake liner and inside its filled with the most delicious custard.  we call them milk clouds.  all the sweets are really good.  i haven’t tried the savory.  i don’t drink coffee but i’ve heard the sea salt coffee is some of the best.  the lines can be reaaaaalllly long.
Ruby’s Shake Shack
we really like this place for the view alone.  play at the beach and then walk up the stairs for lunch.  sit at the bench facing the ocean while you enjoy your meal.
– breakfast burrito
– burger and fries
– shakes
 Lucha Libre in san diego
this was our first time eating at lucha and i thought it was pretty good.  i really like the green creamy sauce at the salsa bar.  i poured it all over everything.
– surfin’ califonia
– queso taco with carne asada
La Super-Rico Taqueria in santa barbara
hands down my favorite mexican food in california
– #16, homemade tortillas topped with carne asada, peppers and cheese.  amazing!!
– homemade guac is to die for
– ivan loved the adobado taco’s
if you are in santa barbara go here, there will be a line but its worth the wait. oh and they have mexican soda.  the perfect meal.
Pitfire Pizza in Costa Mesa
pizza and salads
i have yet to find a pizza i love in southern california.
Bagel Shack
– old man’s on swiss bagel, cream cheese, avocado and lemon pepper
– lower’s add sausage on cheddar bagel
– cinnamon crunch bagel with strawberry cream cheese
the best bagels i’ve ever had.
Sidecar Doughnuts in Costa Mesa
– butter and salt doughnut, my very favorite
-blueberry with cornmeal crumb, this one was doughnut of the month but i think they should always have it, it is that good.
VG Donut and Bakery
so i haven’t been here but i hear really good things about their donuts, its on my list next time i go.
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