Style files: So what’s in that bag?

October 24th, 2013


Coach Purse: This is similar in size to the one I am currently carrying, although they no longer sell my beautiful lavender purse.

Hobo Wallet: once you go Hobo, you never go back. I have two. Trust me when I say these can hold it all. I often carry the night’s take in my wallet, and this will hold a wad of cash waiting for deposit.

Chapstick: I subscribe to BirchBox and currently was given a sample of this chapstick. I LOVE IT!

Small toiletries bag with essentials: I got this as a stocking stuffer one year, and I keep all the essentials, feminine products, bandaids, shout wipes, medicine, etc.

Ear buds: I currently am donning the buds that came with my new iPhone, but am really looking into getting a new pair. I love these pink ones.

iPhone 5s in Gold: Yep. My hubby is a winner, and I now own a gorgeous gold iPhone. Maybe one day I will tell you our trick for never paying for a new phone.

iPhone 5s case: With that beautiful new phone listed above, I need something strong enough to protect it against the kids, and well, lets face it, me. This is my go to case by Otterbox, although lately I have been looking into the Mophi cases.

Notepad: I love my Moleskin, and recently bought a Target brand one. They aren’t the same. I will be buying a new one soon to replace the cheap knock-off.

Pens: My husband never wants to steal my pink pens. However, customers do, so these stay in my purse.

Another setback.

October 23rd, 2013

I wasn’t going to write this, or share this part of it with all of you. Yes, you obviously have gathered by now that I was looking into having some type of gastric surgery for my weight loss. And if I didn’t tell you personally, I’m sorry. It’s a hard pill to swallow, and I have been met with mixed opinions.

I had my pre-op this week. If all went well, my surgery was scheduled for next Monday. You read that right- next Monday! It is a minimally invasive surgery, so outpatient based, and I basically just spend the night and then am discharged. Things obviously didn’t go as planned.

My insurance company is going to deny me- that’s what my doctor has explained to me. I have had every test known done, and, unfortunately, I am healthy. Yep. I don’t have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or even sleep apnea. Which I was sure I did, considering how tired I am during the day. Nope- turns out I just have kids.

Then there is my weight. Technically I am considered in the light-weight-obese category. Didn’t know that existed, did ya. So my BMI is 35%-39% and doesn’t hit the 40% mark. So I qualify IF I have one of the ailments above. So if I want to have surgery, I either have to gain weight or develop one of those awful obese related diseases above. And if I’m really lucky, maybe I will gain the 30 lbs I need to for surgery AND develop one of these diseases. My doctor’s office is having me meet with a dietitian once a month for the next 5 months, and they said that we can make a case to the insurance company that based on my history and the supervised diet of a doctor’s office, I would really benefit from this surgery.

It’s frustrating. I want to be able to have this done so that I can DO SOMETHING about my weight, and yet the doctor and insurance company say just stay the way you are for 6 more months. It is even more frustrating seeing people come in who don’t really take the surgery seriously, but see it as an easy way out instead of a tool, and you know won’t be successful.

My mom told me to “take this opportunity” to cut carbs and really lose weight. It was gut wrenching for her to say that. When you get to the point I have, the last thing you want is for someone to come along and undermine the seriousness of the problem.

So for now, I guess I better go looking for some plus sized outfit to wear for my Christmas photos…

A letter to my future self.

October 23rd, 2013

Dear Alisa,

I hope you have grown over the last few years. This is the time period where growth is so important. I hope you have become on the inside what you want to show to the world on the outside. That you have become beautiful on the outside and radiate that on the inside.

Please tell me you have been content with what God has given you. Realize your husband is absolutely fantastic, and he would do anything for you. You have two beautiful girls who adore you and I hope that you are not taking a single day for granted as long as you are with them. Enjoy their love and foster that. Don’t nag them too much or punish them for coming to confide in you. Cherish that and teach them that you will always be there for them through life’s challenges.

Are you keeping up with those family traditions? I know how much you love to foster those in your life. I hope you are following through with them and teaching your children what family is all about.

I hope you have followed some personal goals of going back to school and furthering your education. Do you still want to teach? Counsel young children? I hope you are giving everything to God and you are letting him guide you through life.

If this comes at a time when life has gotten you down, remember that God will only give you what you can handle. It may seem way out of bounds and tough to deal with, but trust me, you will get through it. You got through it with Olivia and her colic, and you got through it with Stella and her reflux.  You are a strong person and sometimes you tend to forget that.

No one can love you as I love you.

Alisa, age 35.

Top 10 Tuesday: My fave bags right now

October 22nd, 2013

Bags to love


1. Gap Leather Bag This is definitely an every day style for me. I can see myself donning this in spring or fall. At 40% off right now, a definite steal.

2. Orla Kiely Cachet Bag I am in love with this bag. I love all that Orla Kiely produces though (have you seen her backyard?)

3. Delmare Shopping Bag I love the functionality of this bag, being able to adjust. A good alternative for carrying baby things as well, or as a toddler bag. I also love the price point.

4. Kate Spade Stevie Baby Bag I have wanted this baby bag for as long as I can remember. It has yet to grace my arm.

5. Tassel Top Hobo This also is a great price point, and fits into that boho chic category but has clean enough lines to dress up as well.

6. Small Carryall from WILL  This bag is fantastic. I would probably use it to bring on the road with snacks, lunches, Stella’s play blanket & toys.

7. Handmade tote from CrazyBoy My friend Nicole (I love to call her that although we never have met) posted this on her blog, Making It Lovely, and I have had it pinned in Pinterest for quite some time.

8. Notting Hill Bow Tote How adorable is this? I see it with a nice denim tunic, leggings, and my Frye boots.

9. Coach Soft Legacy Bag I am a Coach fan. No question about that. But I have been veering away a little for style points. However, you can always rely upon Coach’s quality.

10. Dooney & Bourke: Oberland Sac I like the classic lines of this bag, and the pop of color. This would definitely be filed under my “mommy bags” though.

25 things you may not know about me

October 21st, 2013

1. I’m thirty five- yep. I have awesome youth genes.

2. I have 4 sisters and a brother- and a brother-in-law and niece.

3. I was raised as an only child by my mother, and often have only child syndrome.

4. My mother participated in various peace activist organizations, and may have been arrested once or twice in the process. Maybe even with Martin Sheen.

5. In 5th grade, we had a faux-election. I was the only one to vote for Dukakis.

6. I once was evicted from my apartment for having a cat. I still have her.

7. When I was younger, my mom ran a migrant children’s center, and then a day camp for special-needs children. I feel I gained compassion for other children during that time.

8. I took one year of Spanish and two years of French.

9. The only words I now know in Spanish are “frijoles en frente por favor” and “uno mas cervesa?” and neither of those were learned in my Spanish class.

10. I am a bartender and have been for 7 years. I have worked at this particular restaurant since 1998.

11. I once took a trip with friends to miniature golf, and was banished to the front seat because the only people in the car that were Huey Lewis fans were me and their father.

12. I am horrible at follow through.

13. I have volunteered for a medium scale music festival in California for 25 years. I can honestly say that because at 12 years old, I was in charge of my first committee: the raffle committee. I now run the entire concessions area and am on the steering committee.

14. My dad is a painter. I feel like I have inherited his painting skills.

15. I, sadly, haven’t talked to my dad in over 10 years.

16. I have extreme passion. I get that from my dad.

17. I LOVE FOOD. So the idea of changing my ways to eat as nourishment instead of delight is a hard one to swallow.

18. I am mostly of British descent, but love to claim the 1/8th Norwegian that I am. I tell people I am Norwegian.

19. I grew up in a small beach town that was mostly surfers and low-income rentals. It is now the most sought after place to live.

20.  I met my husband through a friend I worked with. He was the opposite of what I normally dated at the time.

21. I have struggled with my religious beliefs my entire life. I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and I will go to heaven. This is a late in life realization.

22. I have problems with judgement: I often judge way too much.

23. I have a hard time with organized religion because of the judgement of others: go figure.

24. I’m afraid of birds. All birds. Chickens, ducks, turkeys (who wouldn’t?) black birds, even baby chicks.

25. I have a problem always wanting to be something that I’m not.

What’s something I wouldn’t know about you?


From My Kitchen: Homemade Marinara

October 14th, 2013

My uncle lives on an old dairy farm about 20 minutes away, and we spent some time out there this weekend. The garden is AMAZING. Well, actually, the tomatoes were AMAZING. And I decided to do something about it.

Marinara Sauce Cover Photo

I have a life list- it is ever evolving, but one of the things on my list is to master my marinara sauce. I have not quite done this yet, but I have managed a pretty good start. Read on if you would like to know how I did it…

First, I blanched the tomatoes. To do this, I placed the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, and then placed them in an ice bath immediately after.

Ice bath


As I was doing this, I peeled the finished ones, and then cored them.

Prepped tomatoes

Once they were all prepped, I mashed them in a large pot, and divided them into 32 oz batches.



Can you see that mess of red surrounding the containers? YEP! I pretty much painted my kitchen red in the process. Once my tomatoes were prepped, I heated the olive oil, onion and garlic and sautéed for about 15 minutes. I think it is sooo important to use quality ingredients when doing something from scratch like this. The tomatoes used were from my uncle’s garden, and the olive oil is California Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Tiber Canyon Ranch, here locally. ALWAYS use fresh garlic, although the jarred minced garlic is good in a pinch, nothing like fresh garlic.


I then added the tomatoes, along with salt & pepper and bay leaves. The recipe below also calls for celery and carrots, and although I would definitely use them next time, I didn’t have them on hand this go round, and our harvest box doesn’t come until Thursday. I then simmered for a GOOD 2 hours (also not on the recipe). This is when my sauce kinda went flat… or to the left… or right, but it just wasn’t there.

INSERT HUSBAND: I took a nap (I love my naps). And asked him to “doctor” it up. He added more pepper, some italian seasonings, some sugar and some red wine, and BAM! amazing.

Here is the recipe that I adapted from: Giada’s Marinara Sauce

Things to do different:

1) remove excess water and seeds from tomatoes before crushing and SQUEEZE them dry.

2) sauté fresh herbs with the garlic and onion and add wine to the mix.

3) add an herb bouquet to the sauce while cooking that can be removed to add more flavor.

4) add the vegetables after sautéing onion mixture.

5) be prepared to can instead of freezing the sauce

This is just round 1. As soon as we use all of this, I will be trying again, maybe in spring, maybe next fall.



Fall Bucket List

October 11th, 2013

I’m big on lists… here’s one for the fall that I can’t wait to start updating! We did great with our Summer Bucket List. It wasn’t one we completed, but it was a great motivator to get out there and do something before summer was over.

1. Donate to the food bank

2. Make homemade apple pie

3. Make fall decorations

4. Make a gratitude jar

5. Carve pumpkins

6. Go to a football game

7. Make handprint turkeys

8. Make something pumpkin

9. Drink mulled wine

10. Make a fire

11. Decorate the front step

12. Go apple picking

13. Go to farmer’s market

14. Have fall family photo shoot

15. Trick-Or-Treat

16. Make s’mores

17. Find a corn maze

18.  Make a new soup

19. Make a new hat

20. Help with Operation Christmas Child

Another step in the right direction…

October 10th, 2013

“When you’re on the titanic, you load the life boats, you don’t stop to yell at the iceberg!” Debra, Everybody Loves Raymond.

So this weeks posts are soo behind. Mostly because of last week and getting caught up with chaos. Besides, anyone else feeling sick? Something going around, and it won’t quit. And am I wrong- but mammas can’t get sick! It brings the whole house down!

I feel like for the last 6 months, I have been yelling at the iceberg. Blaming babies, marriage, my family, for my weight problems. Because, let’s face it, we are a product of our environment. But I am finally doing something about it. And I have to address how it makes me feel, but also realize that just talking about it isn’t going to solve the problem. So this week, every time I am about to eat, I am stopping and writing down why I am eating. Am I hungry? Bored? Stressed? Upset?

This past weekend I worked on my latest photo album. More to come on that soon, but it was pictures from our Disneyland trip. On a normal occasion, I would make sure to avoid all pictures that include me, but one of my favorite bloggers, Ashley from Under the Sycamore, once said that you want to be in all those photos with your kids. You don’t want them to miss out having those pictures with their mom, and you want to remember those moments. So I included all of the pictures that included me. I know that I am changing and I will be able to reflect back on these pictures and say, “that was the old me.” But not without actually doing something about it. Otherwise, I’m just yelling at the iceberg.




Top 10 Tuesday: Fall Scarves

October 8th, 2013

Indigo Blue is really calling my name this season, and I am seeing shades of blue everywhere in trends for the cold weather. Here are a few faves for any wallet.Top 10 Fall Scarves


1. Speckled Lights Infinity Scarf  

2. Crochet Ribbed Cowl

3. Dots & Stripes Scarf 

4. St. Andrew’s Scarf

5. Stage Door Circle Scarf 

6. Ticino Infinity Scarf

7. Laura’s Loop Sweater Shawl 

8. Midterms of Endearment Scarf 

9. Classic Rebozo Scarf

10. Shauna Printed Scarf

From my kitchen: Recipes for early fall

October 7th, 2013

Here in California, we have a late summer. So when Fall hits, we really are still going to the beach, wearing sundresses & flip flops, and enjoying warm nights. Problem: Fall creeps up on you like you wouldn’t believe. You mean I have to get halloween costumes ready? But its not even cold out yet!!!

So lately, we have been making great use of our BBQ. We got this one mid summer on a whim, because it was such a great deal. It had been built and left somewhere in the warehouse for a year, so when it was put on the floor, it was already marked down from the year before! Yep- we got it for 80 bucks.

Stok Grill


I thought I would share a few recipes that are our “GO TO” recipes on the grill.


Hobo Stew

1 lb hamburger

seasoning salt and pepper

1 onion, sliced

4 medium potatoes (peeled and sliced to about 1/4 inch thickness)

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1 cup carrot, sliced

1. Tear off four good sized pieces of aluminum foil to make pouches for the “stew”.

2. In the center of each piece of foil, place a 1/4 pound patty of hamburger. 3. Sprinkle meat with seasoning salt and pepper to your tastes.

4. Layer on top of the meat, potatoes, then celery and then carrot.

5. Fold up foil to make a sealed packet. You want it to be “tight” as you don’t want all the yummy juices to run out when you turn them on the barbecue.

6. Place the four packets on a heated to about medium barbecue.

7. Cook 15 minutes on the first side and then turn over and cook 10-20 minutes.

8. Check by opening a packet and making sure the potatoes feel done.

9. When the meat and pototoes are done, remove to a plate and let sit for five minutes meat side down to let the juices run back into the meat.

10. Dump out onto a plate to serve.

11. Sometimes I season the meat like meatloaf before I make the patties and sometimes I serve it with A-1 sauce and or ketchup. The vegetable and the meat compliment each other with their juices. You can add extra potatoes or make the patties bigger — you are limited only by your imagination!



2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

very teriyaki marinade

2 ears of corn, shucked

½ cup of butter or margarine

2 tsp sugar

salt & pepper to taste

4-5 red potatoes

2 T olive oil

1 T minced garlic

Marinade the chicken breasts for an hour in the very teriyaki marinade, making sure that chicken breasts are covered. I like to flip the container every 15 minutes or so just to tenderize them.

Prepare corn: cut 2 pieces of foil. Place 2 T of butter at bottom of foil with a teaspoon of sugar, and salt & pepper. Place one ear of corn on top of butter and seasonings and wrap tightly.

Prepare potatoes: wash and dry potatoes. Cut into ¼ inch cubes. Tear off very LARGE sheet of foil, enough to make a pouch of potatoes. Place potatoes on foil, drizzle olive oil over mixture. Sprinkle salt pepper & garlic over mixture, and place remaining butter on top. Secure pouch tightly so that juices won’t come out when cooking (I’ve seen the fire!)

Heat grill, and place potatoes on grill for 15 minutes (they take a little longer to cook). Place chicken and corn on the grill for an additional 20 minutes, flipping half way through.

Plate & Serve!


BBQ Leek & Onion Pizza

This pizza was always my FAVE when hitting up the local wine bar. I have found it and adapted it to cooking on our grill. Enjoy!

Leek & Onion Flatbread

2 medium leeks

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or as needed

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 pound purchased pizza dough (I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s brand), at room temperature

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Trim and discard the root ends and the tough dark-green tops of the leeks. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, and rinse well to remove the dirt between layers. Drain and thinly slice the leeks crosswise.

2. Set a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of the oil followed by the leeks, onions, and salt. Stir often until the onions begin to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool. (If made up to 2 days ahead, cool, cover, and chill. Warm to room temperature to use.)

3. Preheat BBQ grill. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. On a floured board, shape each portion of the dough into a round. Coat each portion lightly with flour. Roll and flatten each piece into a 1/4-inch-thick round, 4 to 5 inches wide.

4. Transfer the rounds to your pizza stone (my BBQ came with one). If the rounds shrink, re-stretch them until they are again 4 to 5 inches wide. Brush the surfaces lightly with remaining olive oil.

5. Distribute equal portions of the leek-onion mixture over each round of dough to within about 1/2 inch of the edge. Top each round evenly with feta cheese.  Sprinkle lightly with pepper.

6. Cook on grill  until the crust is golden brown and firm on bottom, 12 to 15 minutes. Slide pizzas off pans onto a board or plates, and serve hot.

Adapted from Cat Cora’s recipe found here