Starbucks New Blonde Roast Coffee

Coffee. I love it. I drink a lot of it and I’m very particular about it. This week I went to a tasting of a new brew at Starbucks in Westwood Village. It’s a “Blonde Roast” and the beans are roasted for a shorter amount of time for a lighter-bodied coffee.

Now, I drink very strong coffee every morning and sometime sall day long. At home I drink Starbucks Café Verona, which is a dark roast. But I also buy Pike Place, which is a medium bodied coffee.

At the tasting we got to try all 3 side by side. The one I liked best was surprisingly the Pike Place, which isn’t what I drink every day.It tasted different brewed in the store from the way I make it at home. Fresher beans? Finer grind? I’m not sure. But it was really good. Not bitter, but strong and full of flavor.

That morning, the Blonde Roast, which is called the Veranda and packed in a pretty yellow highlighted bag, seemed a little too light for my taste.

Then this afternoon, as I envisioned a long night looming in front of me, I decided to try the sample bag I got at the tasting. It was perfect for that time of day. It was lighter, but still had flavor.

Starting this week, customers can order the Veranda in Starbucks stores and buy the beans in grocery stores around the US. It’s worth trying out. You may find, like me, that it’s your new afternoon coffee.

To Tamale or not to Tamale

I can remember only one time that we had homemade tamales at Christmas. My mom and a couple of her friends got together and made green corn and red chile tamales. They made them once, but complained for years. The tamales took days to make, but minutes for our family to scarf them down.

A couple of years ago, I started a tradition of making tamales for New Year’s Eve. A few of us got together and worked in an assembly line so it wasn’t too bad.But this year, I’m tired of cooking and cleaning and while I’m currently on the mend, I’ve been sick all week. The last thing I want to do is make tamales and clean up the mess. Now I understand what my mom was talking about. She worked and had 4 kids. Making tamales was a time commitment and she had so little time to spare.

Then I read this lovely post on MomsLA about Christina Simon’s New Year’s Eve tradition to make Hoppin’ John (black eyed peas) every year in honor of her late mother.

It’s not a tradition if I don’t do it every year. So on Friday, I will soak the corn husks in water and Saturday I’ll make the masa and wait for friends to come over. We’ll spend the afternoon assembling the masa, green chiles, and cheese. We’ll drink coffee and chat. And hopefully next year, in spite of busy schedules and holiday malaise, we’ll do it again.

I'm 40!!! How the Hell Did That Happen?

Well, it happened. I’m 40. I know that everyone says they can’t believe it when they turn 40, but I really can’t believe it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great. I have a wonderful husband, 2 fantastic kids, and a new career that I’m excited about. But I thought that at 40 I would feel differently, more mature maybe. Well, that’s definitely not the case. I spent most of Saturday making jokes revolving around the word “blow” after having my hair done at Blo Blow Dry Bar where their slogan is “Because You Can’t Blow Yourself.”

I don’t feel much differently than I did when I was 15 and hanging yvonne elise and sara yvonne and friendsaround my best friend’s Lara’s house watching Oprah. That same friend came all the way from Tucson to celebrate my 40th birthday with me last weekend. And so did three other of my closest friends. Maybe the reason why I don’t feel mature is because I have friends that make me feel so young. They are fabulous. Smart, incredibly funny, and genuinely good people. I’m so lucky to have them in my life.

And all of my friends really. My new friends in Los Angeles are also fabulous. Maybe one of the better parts of getting older is that you’ve gained the wisdom to pick great friends and stick with only the ones that are good to you.

Another thing about 40 that is shocking to me is how good I feel. I’m training for the LA Marathon and other than the days where we run 18+ miles, I feel pretty good. No, I feel really good. I don’t drink too much, or eat too much, or complain too much.

Basically, what I’m getting at is that 40 is ok. Whether it’s the new 30 or even the new 20, I’m kind of loving it.

yvonne and friend

Alpha and Omega 3D

I went to a screening of Alpha and Omega 3D on Tuesday and I’ll start with the positive: My kids thought it was funny and want to see it again. The movie, which opens Friday, is about two wolves, an Alpha and an Omega, who are taken by the forest service and introduced in another park to reproduce. Now here’s what I think. Why couldn’t it have just been a cute movie about two wolves going on an adventure?

It seemed like a perfect follow-up to our family trip to Yellowstone. We saw a wolf midway through our 10 day trip in August. Cars had stopped and dozens of onlookers were watching a wolf through binoculars and zoom lenses. There were other wolves we didn’t see and the rumor was they were hunting an animal.

On our way to the screening I reminded my boys, ages 5 and 6, that we had just seen so many magnificent animals and now we’re seeing a movie (at 7:30, the night before their second day of school. No parenting awards here) about the same animals. But these weren’t the same animals. They were sarcastic animals trying to hook up with each other. It didn’t seem appropriate for the kids the movie was targeting. It was PG, I know, but it seemed overly provocative and not very funny. I’m not a prude, but it’s billed as a cartoon movie not a teen comedy.

One thing I did like was that the toughest characters in the movie were the women. The Alpha wolf Kate, who was competent and smart, must save the day by marrying another alpha from a warring tribe of wolves. Kate’s mother has a strange sickly sweet voice, but makes frightening threats to anyone who messes with her kids.

If my kids were older they probably would have understood more of the jokes about falling in love and mating, but it was over their heads. And like I said, they loved it.

Time is Flying

I know everyone writes this post at this time of year. School is starting and our kids are getting older. But, really!! I can’t believe my youngest little guy is turning 5-years-old. 5-years-old!

When he was born I was so overwhelmed. My boys are 18-months apart and I was on bedrest with both. The older one was always sick and I was so tired. When the youngest was finally born after 3 months of bedrest for preterm labor, it was 8 days after his due date.

We were living in Berkeley at the time and I remember being in the hospital reading in the San Francisco Chronicle that there was a storm approaching Louisiana. It said that the flood waters would grow so high that coffins from the mausoleums would rise from the earth and float around New Orleans. It said it would be a catastrophe of biblical proportions.

When I went home I took my spot on the couch and my baby and I got to know each other. I sat and watched the TV while I was nursing around the clock. I’ll never forget the images from New Orleans and the people trapped with no one to help them. I especially remember Brian Williams losing it with FEMA chief Michael Brown and thinking that this would be it; the thing that would take down George Bush for good. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. And like so many people, I wondered what the response would have been at the Superdome if the people there had been white. It was such a sad time.

After a week or two of alternating between crying uncontrollably at the television and bonding with the baby it was time to pack. My husband had accepted job in Los Angeles and we were moving. We went from a beautiful, comfortable house in Berkeley to a temporary apartment on Wilshire near Westwood Blvd., the busiest intersection in Los Angeles. We were facing the street and it was so loud and urban and the building was strange.

It was filled with beautiful people, retired couples and certainly no kids. My older son would ride his Radio Flyer tricycle up and down the halls ringing his bell. The funniest thing about the place was the parking lot. Many of the cars were those you’d see in magazines and cost upwards of $200,000. The parking space for my Subaru was on the very bottom floor next to the service vehicles and car wash.

 We were only there for a few months, but it ended up being a lovely time. My little guy was a great baby, a good sleeper, a good eater, and so happy. I carried him around in a Moby wrap everywhere I went and it felt so good to always have him so close. It left my hands free to take care of the older one.

I miss being able to pick them both up and I still can’t believe my beautiful boys are 5 and 6.

A Day at the Met

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Blogher this year. The parties and the lists seemed overwhelming and they were. In an effort to ease into it, the husband I slept in on Friday and spent the day as tourists. We went to the Met as an afterthought, but I wish we had arrived earlier. Here is my Whrrl from our afternoon.

More check-ins at Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Gluten-Free Wild Blueberry Muffins

I made these muffins for my son’s wonderful kindergarten teacher (who is having a baby!). I made them with butter and milk, but you can use vegan butter (I like Earth Balance Buttery Sticks and no one is paying me to say so) and soy or rice milk.

Here’s the recipe:

Gluten-Free Wild Blueberry Muffinsblueberry muffin gluten free
1 stick of butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup gluten-free flour mix*
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour Mix**
1 ½ teaspoons xantham gum
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup milk (I used 1%)
2 cups frozen wild blueberries (or fresh blueberries)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray or butter a 12-cup muffin pan. Combine the flours, xantham gum, baking powder, and salt.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla.
Add the flour and mix on low until just combined. Add milk on low until just combined. Fold in blueberries.
Spoon batter into muffin pans filling almost to the top. Cook about 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.


*basic gluten-free flour mix – 3 cups white rice flour, 1 cup potato starch, ½ cup tapioca starch.
**I use the 2 flour mixes because I like the texture and flavor. If you don’t want to mix your own flour you can use 2 cups of Bob’s mix.

Whrrl and April Fooling

My April Fools post seemed much funnier when I wrote it at 11:45 pm on March 31st. Oh, well. I’ll try harder to get my funny on in future posts.

I wanted to share my Whrrl documentation of my trip to Berkeley.

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More check-ins at Bette’s Oceanview Diner
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More check-ins at Picante
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More check-ins at Tilden Regional Park
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More check-ins at Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe
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Let's Take a Moment to Relax

Monday my kids and I slept in (7 am, so that’s an extra 15 minutes!), made waffles, and didn’t get out of our pajamas until 11. We went on a bike ride (they rode and I ran along-saying “you can do it!”), and spent the afternoon with friends.

The first day of spring break was one of the best days we’ve had in a long time. We just relaxed. There was almost no whining (except for the last half of the bike ride), no one threw themselves on the ground crying and they ate every meal I fed them.

I think they were just happy not to have to be anywhere. I don’t feel like I over schedule my 4 and 6-year-old boys, but with school, sports, and friends there is a lot going on and they’re exhausted and I’m exhausted.

I’m pretty stressed out about what I need to be doing for my business and blog and how there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it. But I wanted to take this week and just be with my kids, like when I was I was a full time stay at home mom. I forgot how hard it is. And how much there is to do. We spent 2 hours cleaning the boys’ room and it’s not clean. I had a list of 10 things to do today and I was able to get 2 of them done with the kids home. And I’m still not done with my taxes.

I might be behind, but at least my kids are having a nice week. And so am I.