So much to catch up on…

Pretty much immediately following beginning my blog, I was back to work. I can honestly say I was pretty happy being temporarily unemployed, three weeks wasn’t quite long enough. 😂 I was cooking, and writing in my makeshift office. I was walking, and going to Pilates during the day. I listened to great podcasts about life, being happy, and productive. It was awesome!

Since being back to work my life is still awesome, but I haven’t made enough time to keep up with my blog. I’m hoping to do better this year! Happy 2020 everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday season celebrating whatever Holiday that suits you, and you’re feeling refreshed and looking forward to a new year. I’m not going to rewind and catch up on all that I didn’t post the last several months but can we go back to Christmas? I think we shall…stay tuned. I promise it won’t take me another 4 months to write another post.

Jingle & Mingle

My sister and I have been hosting Christmas parties for our friends for many years; as of recently we haven’t hosted due to conflicting schedules, and other obligations. This year I decided to host, and anyone who can make it will come to get their Jingle & Mingle on. 🎄🥂🤶🏼 We kicked off December with a small group of high school friends. Our Mingle began early in the evening, and was to wrap up about 7:00 pm. Yes, I was adulting and made an Evite complete with beginning and ending times. Years ago, our Christmas parties didn’t start until 7:00 pm and lasted to the wee hours of the next morning. It was much larger group during those years too! So many good memories! ❤️ This year the menu consisted of appetizers, drinks and a few sweets. Here are a few pictures of the party. I served cheese, salami & crackers. Olives, nuts, bread & dipping oil. Hummus and veggies and an eggplant spread. For sweets I made persimmon cookies, and bought Chocolate truffles and Santa’s. There was hard seltzer, wine, and flavored waters. Everyone loved the food, drinks & company. ❤️ I will post the recipes I used below.

Do you host any Holiday parties? What are some of your favorite foods or drinks to celebrate with?

Ina Garten Recipes, thank you Ina!

Persimmon Cookie Recipe

The Peanut Butter Falcon – My Review

I first heard about The Peanut Butter Falcon from Reza, who told Elle and I to watch the trailer. Elle and I sat on the couch and watched with big eyes. Reza heard about this movie from his sister, who lives down in Los Angeles. The trailer was cute, and gave me all the good feels. I typed Fandango into Safari and found it was playing limited release in Los Angeles, and San Francisco. I suggested we drive to Los Angeles to see the movie, Elle thought this was a ridiculous idea as she is not a fan of road trips (car sickness.) If you have kids, leaning towards the ‘tween ages you know what I am talking about. I added to the plan that we could go have dinner, visit Tante Yasi, and maybe make a trip to the Ice Cream Museum…do you see what I did there? I couldn’t sell Elle on the idea of a weekend trip to see a movie and a visit to Tante Yasi. I give up, hands in the air and waving the white flag. Anyways, I didn’t give up on seeing this movie, I kept checking Fandango and was noticing it was being released in more cities as the weeks went by. Finally, on Reza’s birthday last Friday, I saw that it had opened here in Fresno! We went to see this cute, inspiring, funny and sweet movie the next day. It’s a story about following your dreams, and friendship; it’s really good and I highly suggest everyone see this movie. They should make more movies like this. I give this movie 5 stars!!!

A Very Special Pesto

Last week, I had my mom and sister over for an impromptu dinner. It happened by chance that I was trying a new pesto recipe out that evening. I also was gifted some very delicious peppers from Monica. Monica grows peppers every summer, and is nice enough to share her peppers with me. Come to think of it, Monica’s peppers are probably the reason this impromptu dinner came about. As soon as I mentioned to my mom and my sister that I was cooking up some peppers, they both responded with, “MMMmmmmm.” The pesto I was making was a little different than I am used to in that it replaces the basil with kale. A little background on my mom, she is 50% Italian blood, but 100% Italian heart; and there was no way kale pesto would even fly with her. Soooo….I decided to make the kale pesto on the down low. I’m very sneaky like that.

They arrived and we ate prosciutto with cantaloupe, and chit chatted about the days events. I had the pasta on the stove cooking, and asked them to taste test the pesto for seasoning. My sister and mom agreed that all was good, and no salt or pepper needed to be added. I thought to myself, “ok they didn’t notice anything.” I tasted it and I couldn’t tell it was kale either. In effort not to waste an entire pound of pasta, I thought I should run another test by them, this one with sight. I showed them the picture of the ingredients below, neither my sister or my mom picked up on the fact that there is a huge pile of kale in the picture! I am trying to contain my laughter at this point, and thinking how clever I am that I have fooled them so far.

The pasta is done, and I toss a good amount of pesto into the pasta, add some reserved pasta water, turn the heat on high and finish cooking the pasta in the sauce or pesto. If you have never cooked your pasta in the sauce, you must try it!! It’s so easy, just reserve about a cup of the cooking water. Cook your pasta al dente or to your taste. Drain the pasta, add your sauce to the hot pot and turn the heat up to high, as high as it goes. We are going all in here people! Then add your pasta to the hot sauce and stir, stir, stir! Add the cooking water as needed, you don’t want the pasta and sauce to start sticking. Keep the bottom of the pan wet but not too watery…your looking for a creamy, shiny sauce that is just dreamy. Your pasta is so happy and you will be too! Take it off the heat, only cook on high for 1 – 2 minutes.

The pasta and peppers are done, and we sit with our plates to enjoy our meal together. We were a few bites in when I decided to announce that there was something special about the pesto. My mom had a huge mouthful of pasta at this point, but she still managed to utter a very suspicious “WHAT?” My laughter is no longer containable at this point, and soon they join in with me on the laughter. I tell them that I tried showing them the special ingredient in the picture, but neither of them noticed. They asked to see the picture again, and now they see the pile of kale. Kale Yeah!!! We all mutually agreed that the pesto was very good, and would not have been able to tell the difference of a basil pesto vs. kale pesto. Thumbs up for this kale pesto recipe. I also froze the remaining pesto and used it again today….it froze and defrosted wonderfully. I’ll definitely make this one again!

Thank you, Monica, for the peppers.

Happy Monday! How was your weekend?

Good Morning friends! It’s almost 6:00 am and the sun is barely waking up here in Fresno. I am sipping my coffee, looking through my camera roll from this past weekend. I want to share my weekend with all of you beautiful people. My boyfriend, Reza, had a birthday on Friday. We started his birthday week last Sunday, with his family birthday party at his parents house. It’s easier for everyone to get together during the weekend, so we usually celebrate on a weekend either before or after the actual day. I had asked Reza earlier in the week if he would like to invite anyone else to his birthday dinner, but he was undecided as he often is about his own birthday. I sat down Thursday morning and decided on a menu, a Persian feast to celebrate his 44th birthday. We had a feast of Joojeh and Barg Kabab, basmati rice, Shirazi salad, and grilled veggies. Reza decided to invite his parents over for dinner, after seeing the 3 pounds of kabab marinating in the refrigerator. I was planning for leftovers…I like to take a day off in between cooking days, but was happy he decided to include his parents in our dinner. Reza’s mom helped me make the rice, and the Tahdig came out perfectly. She is a really good cook, I mean really good! Reza’s daughter wanted to make the cake. She and I had decided earlier in the week we would make an ice cream sandwich cake after school on Friday. She was super excited to do this, and also happy to enjoy the last ice cream sandwich which was not needed for our cake. 🙂 We roughly followed an ice cream sandwich cake recipe…we layered ice cream sandwiches, cookie and cream ice cream, and topped with whipped topping and milk chocolate gems. It was a crowd pleaser, and super easy for kids to make. If you haven’t had a taste of delicious Persian cuisine, I would recommend trying it. Check out a local restaurant or try making a recipe yourself. There are many great Persian food blogs out there, I have tried several myself. I included some links to the recipes I used for our celebration. I hope everyone had a great weekend! 🙂

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Last year, one of my intentions for the year was to read more books. I am not a reader of books, I find myself starting them but never finishing them. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin broke my streak of unfinished books! I found her project to be smart, well thought, and totally doable for anyone whose desire is to be more happy. A quick synopsis of the book–Gretchen designed a happiness project based on one idea, intention, or task to carry out each month of the year. The goal was to stress less, be present, be organized and find more happiness in each and every day. Its packed with a lot of research and data, which in my opinion is very interesting. I have several marked pages of my favorite facts and quotes to go back to. Since reading her book, I have joined her email list, and have listened to several of her podcasts. I highly recommend to everyone to take a look at her website, open one of her books, or turn up the volume on her podcasts. Yesterday, she posted about how to find the right book, her recommendations of course. If you are looking for the right book, check her blog out here.

Zucchini Breakfast Bread Recipe

Last week I tried an organic produce delivery service. My box contained 3 small, ugly, and sad looking zucchini. The service has a good mission and intention so I thought I would give it a go. Anyways, my sad looking zucchini baked into a beautiful breakfast bread! I can’t stand to waste food, I always try to use everything before it becomes totally inedible. I have bags of frozen over ripe fruit for smoothies, and vegetables for broth. This recipe came to me via Food & Wine, and I am so happy it did. I had all the ingredients in my pantry except for the orange and eggs. The orange zest and oats are what makes this bread turn to breakfast. If you have zucchini coming out the wazoo make this recipe! Even if you don’t have the ingredients on hand, go to the store NOW!

Hello There!

Welcome to my blog, my name is Amber. Presently, I am 39 years of age but will be beginning another year….don’t say it! (You’re thinking it and so am I, but we are not saying it!!!) as I was saying beginning another year in three short months. And what do you know, it just so happens I am currently unemployed! I haven’t been unemployed for over 20 years, so I ask myself, “So, Now What?” Hey, I am not the only one asking me this question; my boyfriend is so lovingly and supportively asking me; his daughter is asking me; my sister is asking me; my mom is asking me, and I am pretty sure if my cat, Maximus, could speak he would also ask me, “So, Now What?”

A million dollar question! So, now what? Well, I guess I’ll start the blog I have been thinking about starting for well over 15 years! It’s such a cliché, I know, but so is being 39 and unemployed, right? Ok, so this is kind of sounding like a movie plot to me, is anyone else catching this vibe? If I was to star in a movie of my life this would be a movie where I came up with some brilliant business idea or product that helped people, animals, or both, and ran a dream company with a dream job living my dream life. Sounds dreamy, don’t cha think? In reality, this blog is currently the only thing I can come up with at the moment. Baby steps people! I have stared at the computer for well over 20 minutes thinking of a domain name, BECAUSE is not available. Haha…..this is not one of those instances where if life gives you lemons you make lemonade. I have a slice of lemon in my water, one single slice, and I am totally good with that!

So here I am, introducing myself to the Internet because this is one of the things I have always wanted to do. I’m being brave, and pushing the publish button. I also love to cook and bake, spend time with my family and friends, go to Pilates class (which I went to this morning,) I love to travel, walk when the air is cool, play Rummikub with my mini BFF, sing karaoke– at home of course, and love taking care of my cat(s). I have one cat who lives with me, and my boyfriend has two cats, who I also think of as my cats (OUR cats) even though they live at his house. I hope somewhere someone who may be in the same life circumstance as I will read this, and find some inspiration and encouragement to be brave and follow a dream!

Obligatory Selfie 🙂
Rose Mural at Broadway Studios
Love Alley – Fresno, CA