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caramel & cocoa

Caramel & Cocoa - cooking, parenting, fashion, diy, eating, living, a blog

Thursday, May 31, 2012


This was today's lunch. Easy & Yummy. It is a pizza made on a tortilla (wrap) on a skillet. For mine, I used tomato sauce, caramelized onions, yellow peppers and cheddar cheese. I'm not taking the credit for this little invention. But here is the link & easy steps for the Tortizza

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

HandMeDown Clothes

Being 14 months apart, I've gotten very good use of the baby clothes. Wearing all of A's old clothes is good for C. It gives her character and depth.

ahh - sigh - ahh ... Where has time gone? I want a third! agh. I can't believe I just said that!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Painting in Dad's Shirts

I tried desperately to do a bit of work today hoping the girls would just "chill" and "hang-out". It didn't happen and I got tired of the constant cries, arguing and complaining. I shrouded them in H's work shirts (the one's I keep threatening to throw out) and we just painted the afternoon away. No rules, "Just go crazy", I said. On a side note, I am not going to mention the shirt thing to H, maybe he'll notice or maybe he'll read my blog... ... ... or maybe, just maybe, I'll get away with it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Guys Don't Get It

I love my Cup of Vintage cake-stand. H never knows where to leave his keys, coins and pocket remnants. He did this. I flipped out. 

Jubilee Cupcakes

Cupcakes are my thing! I can make them with one hand tied behind my back. I'm working on a "Jubillee" themed cupcake. These were my testers. yummy. My recipe is always the same. Cupcake Recipe Link.


Friday, May 25, 2012

ok - so this really happened - I screamed like a banshee

For the last 4 days C has had insanely runny and dark poopoos. She has been going 4 to 5 times per day and like I have said before, I AM NOT PERFECT. And the constant poos annoyed me and I let my emotions slip out a few times while changing her. I did not yell, just exclaimed "Really C, another dark & gooey one. You really need to be toilet trained." I was half-joking and playful. Really, I was! Anyway, A overheard my complaints.

After an incredibly fun birthday party with the girls, we came home to relax out of the sun. I was pottering about in the kitchen when the girls came in holding hands. A asked me if they could go upstairs. I said it was fine as long as they "played" nice. Less than 5 minutes later A came down the stairs into the kitchen, and politely asked me to move over as she placed a nappy in the trash.

"What are you doing? Did the dolly go poo?" I asked.
"No Mommy. C did but I tidied it all up and put the poo in the toilet" I couldn't speak any words. I thought she was joking but after inspecting the nappy I was able to confirm that it was human poo not dolly poo.

Sprinting up the stairs, I reached Cristina who was "dirty", wearing a loosely fit nappy and hovering her head into the toilet, taking a look at her poo. It was a mess.

A thorough clean up and then a bath ... the girls are fine. My 2 year-old just changed her first nappy. I've asked her to not do that again and I'm going to stop complaining.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

GOTYE - you are cool

I admit that I am incredibly old and boring with an outdated sense of fashion style. I also know NOTHING about music ... other than I just heard this track for the first time and really like it. Oh and I can play "Ode to Joy" on the guitar. Other than that. I know nothing.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Turning the Camera on Yourself

 Self-perception and how others perceive us, what's the link? Jen Davis turned the camera on herself, letting the world in on personal moments, insecurities, desires. It is a brave thing to do in a society that values thinness & beauty. 

I found her self-portraits to be both thought-provoking and embarrassing because I've been "there". I know I can't do what she has.  Taking a quick scroll through my facebook newsfeed, I doubt many of us would be able to do so. Facebook is riddled with "our" best pictures, best poses and conveyances of happiness. But where are the dark things? the real things? 

She let me sleep

This never happens and thus is worth sharing.

H left for work early. I never use an alarm. I don't have to because my nearly 3 year old always wakes me up before 6:30, running in, jumping in bed, asking for anything and everything she can think of. So I expected A to wake me up. But I woke up very peacefully this morning and well rested. I was "happy" to start the day. It was eerie and as I reached over for my phone to check the time, my heart began to race thinking something was wrong. I jumped out of bed when I saw that it was 8:30.

As I turned the corner into the girls' room, I could hear A telling C, "Go to sleep. Mommy is sleeping." followed by "Why are you awake? I'm tired. I'm going to get angry."

The child is turning into me!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A 29-year-old on the difficulties of landing a first job

this is quite good -

Here is a clip. The rest on link at end.

Hi Rob,
I thought I'd thank you for digging into the issues facing Millennials (a term I abhor, but anyhow) as they finish school and enter the workforce. Perhaps that should read "enter the ranks of the unemployed," but for some incomprehensible reason, I'm still hopeful. Don't worry though, it's fading fast!
My story's about the same as most, but I'm hoping that it might shed some light on some other issues that we face in working with what we've been dealt. I finished up at university at about the same time that Lehman Bros. went under, after having seen the very obvious warning signs at Bear Stearns et al. Admittedly, this wasn't great timing, but I thought that with a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and a bit of luck, things would work out alright. What I got instead was this:
- Short-term contract position after short-term contract position.
- Wages that weren't at all related to the realities of short-term contract positions, ie: way too low to make up for the short-term, no-benefits nature of the work.
- Experience that was almost completely unrelated to anything I was interested in, career-wise.
- Hiring freezes at a ludicrous number of places.
- A complete inability to "grow up," so to speak
At the age of 29, I've likely forever lost the following opportunities due to cost and probable inability to make up for lost wages and career potential:
- Getting married.
- Having children.
- Owning a home that's bigger than 500 square feet. (hint: that's not big.)
- Studying any more, whether that means grad school, law school, or even just night classes at a random community college.
- Retirement. Sure, I'd love to be investing for it. But with what money?
Am I bitter about all of this? Not entirely, because it all just sort of works itself out. If I can't get married (dating is tough when you're broke) and have kids, I don't need a home bigger than 500 square feet, nor is more study to obtain employment that I'm not only happier with and better at than what I already do but also more lucrative really necessary, since I'll only be supporting myself. As for the issues revolving around savings, investments, and retirement, you may be surprised to find out how much happier one can be if you simply accept that you'll be working until very close to your death. Why? Assuming I do end up doing this, I'll have a consistent income coming in until death, which should make up for lack of retirement funds.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gifts to Give or Get

I budget. I scrimp. I buy second hand - I buy ALOT of second-hand. But occasionally I come across items that I think are special, though getting me to spend over 20 isn't easy. These caught my eye. 

Child's Personalised Oil Cloth Apron 
15.50 GBP ($15.50 USD)
The personalized touch is great, but also, it is easy to wipe clean and the kiddos will love getting involved in the kitchen and using them for messy arts & crafts.          
Retro Lunch Box by 
4.75 GBP ($7.50 USD)
I like simplicity and things that might "appear" to be old. I think this is great. 

Zoola Jewellry Ring Holder by Umbra                                         
7.14 GBP  ($11.30 USD)                  
Please tell me I'm not the only 
one who misplaces her rings.  

Rainbow Necklace by
25 GBP ($40 USD)         
Definitely over my budget but the dove
sold it for me.  Is it summer yet?                                                                     

An iPaperPad by 
3.20 GBP ($5 USD
 I just think this is funny. 

Why I am learning the Guitar

I'm learning the guitar because music makes people smile. ahh  -  life is good.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

sick like walking dead sick

I've been sick. I'm better now so don't worry. But this was the sort of "I'm glad I have a will written out sick." I was bedridden for two days and for three nights the only thing that would put me to bed was a warm shot of whisky in my verbena tea (ok fine two shots).  All I had was the common cold, but for some reason whenever I get a cold, I get an incredibly painful sore throat and I start to cough uncontrollably to the point where I feel hot, start peeling off layers of clothing, and  my abs begin to contract. It doesn't stop. Yesterday at the grocery store I had an attack and about 4 people tried calling for an ambulance. As soon as it passes, I'm fine. My ribs are very sore now and I am dumbfounded that I have made it this far without breaking a rib during an episode.

I've done the unreasonable thing, which is to spend hours on the internet self-diagnosing and I am now convinced that I need my tonsils out. H thinks I am insane. I'll see my doctor in two weeks to discuss.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


This is an easy (mild) guacamole. The key is to toss all of the ingredients into the bowl before mixing and to mix with a slotted spoon, which mashes the avocados. If you need to refrigerate to use a day later, add the juice of an extra lemon then place in storage dish without lid, place cling (clear) film directly on top and pat onto the guacamole so that there is no air in the container. Then place lid on container. It should be good for up to 2 days without browning.

Ingredients: 6 ripe avocados (chopped), 2 tomatoes (chopped), 1 medium onion chopped, 1 bunch of coriander (cilantro) (finely chopped), juice from 2 lemons, juice from 2 limes, 1 serrano chile (ribbed, seeds removed and finely minced), coarse salt, tablespoon of cumin powder. Optional tablespoon of mild chili powder & tablespoon of coriander powder.

Toss all of the ingredients into a large plastic bowl. Using a slotted spoon mix, slightly mashing avocados. Enjoy with tortillas or in wraps.

Friday, May 11, 2012

10 pounds to go

I've lost 3 of my 13 pounds ... but today ... (sigh) (sigh) (sigh) I went to a child birthday and did some baking and (sigh) (sigh) (sigh). As a result, I've eaten just about 2000 calories of cakes & brownies. I feel it. GROSS. Hoping to pick up again starting now ...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Happy Mother's Day (to my mom)

When my older brothers were very little my mom had a very upsetting dream. In her dream, she and my two brothers were on a sandy beach. In the distance, she noticed a colossal wave coming towards them. She ran to grab her boys. She ran so quickly her feet felt like they were burning. They were all caught in the wave, but she managed to grab a hold of them, one in each arm. Holding on to them and kicking her feet to stay afloat, the wave began to struggle with her. She described it as, the wave, growing a hand. They tugged back and forth over the boys and in the end, she was left ashore, with only one of my brothers. My brother Tony was gone. She cried. She awoke and immediately ran to check on them as they slept peacefully in their beds.

I do not know who else she has told of this dream but she has only told me once after I had already had children. The dream is both cruel and powerful because years later Tony was killed by a gang-banger's stray bullet. Tony's death is not a secret but at the same time, it is not something we ever discuss. It is a painful and delicate memory.

And it is around this time of year, when the United States and Mexico are celebrating Mother's Day, that I mourn the tragedy and celebrate my mom. I know that my mom knows I love her. But I am not sure if she is aware of the admiration that I hold for her. She has managed to keep it together, maintain a strong family and raise three other children, locking in her heart, the memory of my brother and always trying to protect us against any "waves". She is strength.

Now, she will never read this post and I am fine with that. I am not sure if I want her too because it might cause her too much sorrow. Happy Mother's Day Mom.  I love you.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dear Kids - I Need a Rest

Dear Girls,

Today you are 19 & 31 months old.  I spent yesterday, like most others, taking care of you two, playing, cooking & cleaning.  I was upset when you decided to play "bathtime" and turned your juice cups over onto your heads landing onto my carpet and over your clothes. But I dealt with the situation without yelling, instead playfully calling you "silly dirty girls" and having you help me scrub the carpet. I was disappointed when you found the salt container, opened it and took turns pouring it into the sofa because you were playing "mommy chef" and pretending to "cook."  But I pulled out my hand-held vacuum and sorted it out, asking you to not do that again. I was embarrassed at the shop when you both decided to lie on the ground so you could stare at the "funny" ceiling lights. I waited patiently, coaxing you to "hurry along" as other customers shook their heads & frowned.

And so why did I not flip out? It is because I know that none of these incidents, albeit annoying, inconvenient and a bit embarrassing to the adult world were intended to hurt or upset me. It was you two, exploring, being creative, trying different things and having fun. I could not stand to yell at you because I did not want to end your smiles or crush your enthusiasm. I sadly know that life experience and age will do that for you. But for now, I will let you have fun as I show you "the ropes" and introduce you to "the rules" of life. Though I admit I will make plenty of mistakes along the way.

There was a point when I lost it. You were not aware. Last night you both went to bed as usual at 7:30. I stayed up to iron, prepare your meals and sort your clothes. I crashed at 11pm and was awoken at 2am by the both of you who decided to hop into bed with me. You argued over who would lay next to me and once we reached a happy resolution, you easily drifted off to bed. I, on the other hand tossed and turned for an hour, unable to sleep comfortably in the small space you'd left me. I felt suffocated. At around 4:15, I had had enough and angrily got out of bed with the intention of lifting you & taking you to your own beds, despite pleading or tears.

I got out of bed and using my cellphone as a flashlight, I lifted the covers to lift you. There you were, side-by-side & cheek-to-cheek, holding hands. And I again, couldn't stand to pull you apart or away from that moment. You both looked so calm and secure. And so while I did lose it, I quickly came back to reality. The reality is that, as much as I complain about lack of sleep, no personal time or space, these precious years with you are just flying by. One day you will be all grown with pressures and concerns of your own. So for now I'll just let you live life happy and safe. For now I'll just continue to sleep at the foot of the bed or on the floor.

And as I end this little letter, I just would like to ask that you please, forgive me on the days when I really do lose it and shout. I'm not perfect either.  Also, it would really help me out if you slept in your own beds. ;) love mami.

Easy Nutella Cake (no flour)

I love nutella. I love nutella. I really love nutella. I have two recipes for a nutella cake but this specific recipe is unbelievably easy, calling for only two ingredients: nutella & eggs. The frosting calls for three ingredients: nutella, butter & icing (confectioner's) sugar. The result is a decadent, very moist & dense cake.

For the cake you will need, 300grams (10oz) of nutella & 4 eggs (whites and yolks separated)

1. Grease and line with parchment paper a 7 inch round spring-form tin. Heat oven to 180 C (160 C fan/350 F).
2.  In a medium sized bowl beat the egg yolks vigorously until fluffy. Slowly add in nutella in 3 lots, mixing after each addition. Beat until the mixture is smooth.
3. Vigorously beat the eggs whites until they are very stiff & foamy. Slowly fold the egg whites in three lots, into the nutella mixture.
4. Stir until smooth.
5. Transfer to the spring-form. Bake for about 25 minutes until cake starts pulling off the sides of the tin.

For the frosting you will need, ¾ cup of soft butter, 3 cups icing (confectioner's sugar), 100 grams (3.5 oz) nutella

Beat all of the ingredients until smooth. Store in fridge until cake is completely cooled.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Why My Kids are Cool

Today, the girls decided they would not let me out of their sight and followed me everywhere, from toilet to kitchen. I could not, for a second, get away. By 7pm, I was tired of having them glued to my hips but I got over it because my girls are cool. Why? Two reasons. First, they like to dance in sunglasses just before bed. Second, they pass out at 7pm, no fuss. Rock On!

Car Lashes?!?

I had the most nightmarish trip to a DIY store with the kids today.  I came across these eyelashes to dazzle a car. Question, Who uses these?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Berry Icing Cupcakes

Cupcake Recipe:
You will need: 1 stick of softened butter (about 115 grams), 1 cup of sugar, 2 whole eggs, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 1/3 (one & one-third) cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, pinch of salt, 1/3 cup of milk. 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C/160C with fan). 
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and pinch of salt  into a bowl and set aside. 

3. Cream together the butter & sugar until nice & smooth. 
4. Add two eggs and vanilla extract. Mix again. 
5. Slowly add the flour mixture in three lots. Mix. Slowly add milk. Mix. DO NOT OVER MIX. Batter should be dense. 
6. Pour batter into cupcake tin. Fill each 3/4 way up. 
7. Pop in oven for 20 - 22 minutes until a fork comes out clear. 

Icing Recipe:
You will need: 1 stick of softened unsalted butter (about 115 grams), 1 pound of confectioner's (icing), 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup raspberry or strawberry preserves (or jelly/jam). 

Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth but still thick. Refrigerate for an hour before using. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

one of "those" days ...

I tend to babble, often trying to convince people to join me on this "only fresh organic homemade food for the family" journey I am on. Well, while it sounds very upper class and sophisticated, today was just one of "those" days. Here is a whole load of organic homemade sophistication all over my shirt. If you take a second look you can see blue paint from last week. I don't know why I even bother washing my clothes sometimes.

Today's car trip from the grocery store summarizes my day. For reference C is 19 months (coming up to 2), A is 31 months (coming up to 3).

C - "blph blph blph" (as she started spitting in the car)
A - "You are a naughty girl and should stop doing like that"
C - "No. Not naughty!" (very loud shout)
A - "Yes. Naughty!" (nearly crying)
C - "Roar" - (roared like a lion at A)
A - " I don't like it" (in full on tears and scared)
A - (retort) "ROAR" (her loudest roar)

The girls then proceeded to try and "out" roar each other. I shouted, "Stop now or timeout at home."
There was a dead silence and then in unison they both burst out crying in high pitches.

Like I said ... just one of those days.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

10 Mindful Minutes

Against my better judgement I am admitting two things.

First, I don't read like books, unless my kids are around in which case I pretend to be a "lean - mean - reading machine" (I will validate the previous point at the end, so give me a break). Second, despite my displeasure "Re" reading, I have managed to read 10 Mindful Minutes two times in the last 5 weeks, cover to cover. I'm embarrassed because Goldie Hawn is the author of the book & everyone I tell about it feels obliged to refer to the woman as an "airhead."  Airhead or not, I have found the book incredibly useful and applicable to everyday life with the purpose of reducing stress & anxiety & helping our children to do the same.

The book starts off slow but the tools she introduces are helpful. They are simple, but in this fast and digital world, we forget. I've really been trying to give my mind a rest and focus on little things. Have you ever found yourself doing 2 or more things at once? All of the time? What about slowing down and doing 1 thing - being mindful of 1 thing. For example, if you are going on a walk, think about your steps not about your weekend or an argument or the future. Just think about your steps, or your breathe. It is not easy to do at first but it is immensely relaxing.

I've been applying the tools to my children as well, especially my almost-3 year-old who can be hyperactive. She has an amazing ability to focus which I had never noticed before. Yesterday, she seemed tense and I could sense a tantrum coming. I asked her to focus on her hands and she began uttering a fantastic description, "small, short nails, pink, dirty, lines on the inside, bend, fingers, pointing, spider, smaller than mommy's." In the last 5 weeks, I have noticed the girls are more aware of their surroundings, hearing birds or leaves rustling when I have sadly managed to tune it all out.

Now, in defense to my dislike of reading, I used to enjoy reading & my favorite book is the Awakening by Kate Chopin.  However, I find that having been raising babies for the last 3 years, I am tired by 9 and there is no way that my girls are going to let me read a book that is not being read to them during the day. As a result, the only opportunity I get for "reading" is in bed and then I fall asleep instantly.