Garden Loot and Caprese Salad

Our garden has had a fantastic harvest so far this summer. We’ve had about as much food as we’ve ever harvested from our two long beds. Squirrels and chipmunks have often bested us, but this year we must’ve convinced them to stay away, because they’ve only gotten a couple of tomatoes (*knocks on wood*). We planted tomatoes (four different kinds), okra, yellow squash, jalapenos, cayennes, bell peppers, oregano, Italian basil and Thai basil. Our herbs are flourishing, we have more peppers than our tongues could stand, and lots of tomatoes are given away so they don’t rot on our counter. Squash we have sliced and frozen, and okra we eat straight off the plant because it’s better raw than any other way. Today, when we got a huge bag of tomatoes when the counter was already full, I decided Caprese salad was the only thing to do! Slice some tomatoes, toss on some fresh basil, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and top with mozzarella! Hubby likes to also sprinkle a little salt on top – not too much though, or it can easily overpower the whole salad.







As you can see, the biggest sad point of this recipe is the lack of “real” mozzarella. The shredded mozzarella from a bag is “real” I guess, but it isn’t freshly sliced like my preferred mozzarella would be. However, it did in a pinch.

Now that I’ve whet you appetite for Caprese salad (with these amazing photos Hubby took with his fancy-schmancy camera), what are your favorite ways to eat fresh tomatoes?


Unconventional Tips For Beginning Runners

I love this blogger for many reasons, but this is a great post… everything about it I totally agree with!

A Morning Grouch

1. Run way slower than you think you should.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re going to run as fast as you did in high school (if you even ran in high school – that’s certainly not a prerequisite).  The point is, you’re old and out of shape now, and you just need to work with what you have.  When you’re first starting out, you should probably feel like you could walk as fast as you are running.  It should feel like it’s too slow, and you’ll never get a workout this way.  Trust me, you will.  See how that pace goes for an extended period of time and then gauge whether or not you think it’s too slow, for realsie.  Too many runners start out fast and quickly crash and burn, end up feeling like ass, and then never want to run again.  Start by being a…

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Parenting Fail #38174: the Toilet Again?!

We’ve had another Parenting Fail at the Hsu House. This time, no one is sure who to blame. No one is even sure when it happened. There was no real damage done to child or property, but the lingering effect, now completely fixed, was found after the fact.

IMG_7167.JPGyes, that is a toilet bowl. Yes, it is chock full of toilet paper. The basement bathroom we rarely use isn’t a typical place for my daughter to hang out, but she managed to sneak in, unroll half a roll of toilet paper, and fill up the toilet. Most surprising thing? It flushed right down with no problem. Thankfully.

I’m having a hard time with the irony that we are potty training right now, and when I want her to get ON the potty, she acts like she’d rather eat chicken livers, but when left to her own devices, it seems she’d play in it all day. Sheesh.

Here’s the culprit, clearly doing hard time.

Anyone else’s kid keep trying to get to the toilet?!

Thank you, New York!

Here’s the last bit of our Hsus Do New York experience. It’s long. Enjoy!

I had heard some great, kid-friendly things about the Battery Park area (which is funny, since it’s mostly financial district) so we headed there on Wednesday. It was actually great, because EK had been talking about getting on a boat all week, so we figured getting down there next to the water was the way to make it happen. We took the subway (most of the way down) to Battery Park,  and without really planning it, happened to be right next to the 9/11 Memorial. It is incredible to think that the event was almost 13 years ago. And it’s even crazier to think that yes, we have created a memorial for it, and survivors are all back to work and trying to go about their lives, but it’s still not all the way back to normal in that area. There were roses left on names, people gathered in corners of the park, and the new Freedom Tower isn’t even finished yet. We rose up, of course, but there is still work to be done.

Freedom Tower
Freedom Tower
Memorial Fountain
Memorial Fountain
Handsome Babywearing Hubby
Handsome Babywearing Hubby

After we left there, we walked a few blocks to the water, where the actual park is. It was full of families, runners, artists, and community groups of kids from summer camps and day cares. It was truly a gorgeous day, the park was beautiful, and seeing the sights across the water was awesome.

EK gazing out on the water
EK gazing out on the water
Chilling in the park
Chilling in the park

The pier was closed, so we walked a few more blocks to Castle Clinton, where the boats all dock to go to the Statue of Liberty and Governor’s Island. When we saw the line for the Statue of Liberty cruise, we knew our babies would never stand for it, no matter how badly EK wanted to get on a boat. So we opted for the NY Water Taxi, and we loved it! The ticket lasts the whole day (you can get on and off till they stop running), there were several stops, there was a bar/snack bar, and the tour guides were great! They don’t have a script, so they literally tell you lots of facts, but also their favorite places to eat or shop or hang out. It was an appreciated, air-conditioned, sightseeing break in the middle of our day.

J and my mom hanging out on the boat!
J and my mom hanging out on the boat!
Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
(Obvious) Statue of Liberty!
(Obvious) Statue of Liberty!

We took the boat from Battery Park up to Times Square, rode the Ferris wheel at Toys R Us, visited the Disney Store (where there was a lack of Elsa-related merchandise that EK was asking for, but we still got her some “princess shoes” and a Buzz Lightyear for J), and let EK stare at the hundreds of screens, lights, and posters. We had a blast.

J crushing Buzz Lightyear with love.
J crushing Buzz Lightyear with love.
I just had to post this picture - I've always loved Barbie even though she's gotten some flack. This makes up for it, just a little bit.
I just had to post this picture – I’ve always loved Barbie even though she’s gotten some flack. This makes up for it, just a little bit.
So excited that she couldn't even wake up.
So excited that she couldn’t even wake up.

For our last dinner in NYC, we ate at a really expensive delicious steak house called Smith and Wollensky. It was, in a word, incredible. Our concierge told it would be fine to take the kids with us, and truly it was (EVERYONE was really great about them) but they were the only kids in there, and if I had stuck my head in the door first, I never would’ve brought them in. But they were troopers; it was late in the evening, but J took a little nap and EK played with a lot of stickers. Hubby and I drank a lot of wine, haha. It was an all-around great experience, and I wish we’d been around to eat the copious amounts of leftover steak we couldn’t manage to finish before we left.

Good-looking crew, right?
Good-looking crew, right?

Thursday morning, we had a few hours of precious time before we needed to go to the airport, so Mom and I took EK to a little tea house we had been walking by all week. I knew from experience they’re probably have great breakfast, and EK loves tea parties. We all put on cute dresses and headed two blocks down to Alice’s Tea Cup for a pot of tea and breakfast. Let me tell you – it was a total win. A whimsical interior combined with delicious food, a huge tea selection and several little cute things for EK (like sprinkling her with glitter “fairy dust” and telling her to make a wish) made for a delightful morning. The scones, in particular, were perfect – chocolate orange and white chocolate blackberry. ARE YOU SERIOUS!?

Mom (Necie, to EK) snuggling Princess EK
Mom (Necie, to EK) snuggling Princess EK

So there’s the last bit of it. Our first family trip to NYC. I hope there are many more to come, and hopefully not too long from now! It definitely boosted my confidence for what we might be able to handle in the future! What are some things we missed that my kids might enjoy next time we go?

Hsus “ZOO” Sush-York, and Eat(a lot)aly!

Forgive the cheesy title; at least it isn’t misleading! Too much? Okay, you’re right. I’ll think about it…

Last Tuesday, we headed on a long subway ride to the Bronx, because we had heard that the Bronx Zoo was way better than the Central Park one. It was indeed a long trip, but the zoo was great! J was a trooper (he didn’t care much about the animals) and EK loved it. 20140801-220814-79694223.jpgBy the way, babywearing at the zoo was the way to go. We rented a double stroller, but that thing was NOT user-friendly. EK couldn’t see from that low, and J wasn’t comfortable in there. A waste of $15 when both kids either wanted to be carried or worn, or in EK’s case, run around a bit. We just lugged it around the whole time, full of the diaper bag and our water bottles. But other than that, the zoo was great. We saw peacocks, monkeys, red pandas, camels, water birds of all sorts, and lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The kids expired rather quickly, though, so after we had seen about half the zoo, we headed back for a snack and a nap.

That evening, we met our dear friend Hope for some sushi (at Mizu, a restaurant of the same name as our favorite sushi place in Winston) and then traveled to Eataly for some gelato. Unfortunately, because it was getting late, we didn’t have much time in Eataly… that’s possibly my biggest sad note from the whole trip. That place was amazing. It took up about a city block, contained gelato, coffee, pasta, and wine (four of my greatest loves) and other wonderful and delicious Italian goodies. It should have been a whole day affair, and we crammed it into an hour or so. Ah well, there’s always next trip…

Hope snapped this one of EK enjoying her gelato.
Hope snapped this one of EK enjoying her gelato.
Hope getting some J snuggles, and Hubby photobombing like a champ. I honestly didn't notice him till after I took the picture!
Hope getting some J snuggles, and Hubby photobombing like a champ. I honestly didn’t notice him till after I took the picture!
Hubby and me, one of our only good shots from the trip!
Hubby and me, one of our only good shots from the trip!

Be on the lookout for the last installment of Hsus Do New York! I’ll really be sad to wrap this series up, but maybe that means we will have another cool trip soon!

Family and Food – Hsus Do New York

More New York City fun… Here’s what we did Sunday and Monday!

On Sunday (our second day), my mom and I woke up with the kids, packed them up, left Hubby in bed, and went to search for bagels. Thankfully, we found a DELICIOUS bagel place  less than a block away. It was inexpensive and had more than just bagels (fresh fruit, good coffee, juice, pasta salad, etc).   I think it was called “Bagel Express II” but I’m not sure. When we had eaten and collected Hubby, we visited FAO Schwartz and hung out on the east side of Central Park. It was great weather to just peruse the area, eat some street food, and think of some things to do during the week.

Enjoying some street meat - lamb gyro to be exact.
Enjoying some street meat – lamb gyro to be exact.
EK in her princess crown with her beloved cockatoo (cah-ah-too)
J deciding if he wants a new tiger.
J deciding if he wants a new tiger.

For dinner, we decided on the Italian restaurant on the corner near our hotel, Tony’s di Napoli. It was delicious, however very crowded and slow. We didn’t anticipate having a two hour dinner that began at almost 7:30. We ended up giving J a bottle to put him to sleep and sending EK back to the room with my mom for a bath while we waited for the check and boxes for our food. It was a little hectic, but their food was truly delicious.

On Monday, lots more things were open again, and we could really get in to some fun things! First, we visited the Natural History Museum with Hubby’s cousin Becca. She’s an awesome lady – a jazz singer in NYC who always makes time to hang out with our littles. (Her website, by the way, is here. Check her out because her music is ridiculously amazing.) We looked at tons of animals, and watched the show in their planetarium (totally amazing) and both the babes even loved it!

Cousin love.
Cousin love.

We followed that up with an delicious Vegan lunch at Peacefood Cafe, coffee at Irving Farm, and then Mom, the kids and I went back to the hotel for naps. (I won’t lie… an afternoon nap schedule suited me JUST FINE because I was pooped by then also.) Hubby went with Becca to a famous guitar store and played zillion-dollar guitars all afternoon (he came back a very happy camper). Miranda (another of Hubby’s cousins, who had lunch with us) came over to the hotel for dinner (take out) and brought us some teeny-tiny cupcakes, which we ate on all week!

Miranda snuggling big J, the hippie.

That night, Mom kept the kids so Hubby and I could go out on the town. We went to the East Village to a favorite spot of yet another of Hubby’s cousins (Katie – sister of Becca) who used to live in the city. Drop Off Service used to be a laundromat, and kept the name when the space converted to a bar. Small, intimate and homey, lots of good beers on draft, and in a trendy neighborhood for the piece de la resistance.

This is the pic stitch we sent to Katie to guess where we were!

We walked from Drop Off Service to a little Irish pub, O’Hanlon’s Bar, where we played some darts. I won both games, of course. It’s worth bragging about because it’s the only thing I’ve ever beaten Hubby at. Just give it to me, okay?

Stay tuned for one more NYC post in the series… I’m having a blast writing about it! Check out some of those links, and leave some comments about places we should try next time!



Keep Calm and Mother On

*This post appeared on*

I have a two year old. They’re clumsy. They haven’t been walking all that long, and they don’t pay much attention to anything. Those two simple things make me wonder why EK isn’t more banged up than she already is. She’s got probably ten little bruises on her knees and shins alone. Like today, leaving the house, she bounded across the front porch and completely ignored the one step down to the sidewalk… and fell. (Cue face palm.)

But the other night, she got her second (you read correctly) black eye in her short little life. The worst part about it is that Hubby, one of my girlfriends and I were all sitting right there, hanging out and playing in the floor with her. Then one wrong move, and boom. Into the brick hearth my baby’s face went. It was so fast I wasn’t even sure it happened. But you know what came next: that crying-without-making-noise thing they do. Their face is screwed up, their mouth is wide open, air is moving through there, but no sound is coming out. Then just as you think they will possibly pass out soon, in goes a huge gulp of air and out comes a wail.

EK, my friend Katelyn and me, all sad about the big booboo.
EK, my friend Katelyn and me, all sad about the big booboo.

As the mama, you set the tone for what comes next. There are two ways you can play this. #1: Give in to the panic that blood will obviously be coming out of a gaping hole, your daughter most certainly lost at least one eye, and you should prepare to head to the ER. #2: Try to keep calm. Scoop her into your arms, comfort her till the worst of the crying subsides (or at least till her breathing gets a little more normal), softly ask Hubby to get some ice, and assess the damage without any frightened screams or dramatic gasps or word vomit about how nervous you are that she will have a scar the size of Texas.

Somehow, I was able to stick with #2. I was calm on the outside, no matter how fast my heart was beating, and EK calmed down fairly quickly, too. I have learned that my reaction is everything. Even more than how she initially feels, my reaction directly affects what she will do. In this case, she milked it a little for a few extra kisses, carried around her ice for 20 minutes, but was back to normal shortly with the promise of yummy dessert after dinner. It’s amazing how a parent’s body language and words are mimicked by a little teeny girl. If I make a huge deal, so does she. If I grunt when I bend down to pick something up (like when I’m pregnant), she does the same. Seriously, it’s been six months, EK. You can stop.

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