Triple the Babies, Triple the Fun

Once upon a time, I bonded with a girl entirely based on the fact that we could consume more beef and broccoli than anybody else at our table (boys included). Our common interest blossomed into friendship and soon we were causing trouble all over town.

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My sister and I were lucky enough to be in her wedding too! Here is a photo of Kat and I holding her dress and taking our jobs very, very seriously.

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We grew old, she became a doctor….I started a blog…you know how the story goes. Now she is the mother of not one but three beautiful girls! Rob and I were jonesing for a hit of some of that sweet, sweet newborn smell so we decided to gas up the car and pay a visit to Tiff and her family up in Maryland.

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Sweet Ari teaching me the right way to focus my lens. “This is the way you do it!!”

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Let’s not forget Brody too!

How lucky is she to have such a sweet family? I hope one day that my kids are just as awesome.

 

This Post is Completely IrrElephant

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Step aside current dream job, when I grow up I want to be a mahout. In between all of the eating and beaching Rob and I did in Thailand, I made sure to schedule a few days at Elephant Hills, a luxury tented camp set in the middle of Khao Sok National Park, the largest jungle in all of Thailand.

At the camp we were able to help out with the elephant preserve’s daily activities such as scrubbing their thick skin with coconut husks, hosing them down, preparing their daily meals and feeding them.

Did you know….
+ Elephants can be picky eaters? We fed the elephants a mixture of sugar cane, palm leaves, bamboo, and tamarind. The elephants immediately went for the sweet stuff and threw their veggies on the ground.
+ If you come across a white elephant in Thailand you must immediately notify the king. White elephants are considered sacred and often live the remainder of their lives at royal palaces and are often given royal titles.

PS: How funny is it that Rob wore a Swedish Tourist Shirt in Thailand?

This Year I Will

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….. Send thank you cards (I already bought a box)
….. Join a book club
….. Learn how to make my mom’s world-famous pancit
….. Paint my kitchen and bedroom walls
….. Fold clothes when I take it out of the dryer instead of leaving it in the basket
….. Make it a point to keep in contact with old friends
….. Purge the apartment of things I don’t need anymore
….. Learn how to use chopsticks (I know, Bad Asian)

Hola Kimi!

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Like Ma$e said: Welcome Back!

It’s been a long time since I blogged regularly but after a long afternoon reading old Live Journal entries from my 15 -year old self, I decided that sharing my life online is an integral part of who I am. Without my decade and some years long digital footprint there is no way I would remember such gems such as:

+ The time I got my first speeding ticket and then invited the police officer to try the new shrimp promotion at Ruby Tuesdays after his shift. He declined, but I got out of a reckless.
+ When my catchphrase was “Super” and “High Five!” or sometimes both together (it kind of still is)
+ The time I met my future husband because I was having a cough attack at Mason Pond

As time passes through an hour glass….I no longer feel that Suburbanette fits who I am anymore. And let’s be real, pink has not been my favorite color in at least five years (it’s sunshine yellow, coral, turquoise, and green in case you want to know). So I present to you, Hola Kimi!

Stay tuned for future loves, rants, and general ramblings from a slightly manic, 30-year-old girl-not-yet-a-woman. Cheers!

A Van-tastic Christmas!

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Rob and I’s eighth Christmas together! This year he got me a new camera lens so we can actually start documenting our life together.

A few tidbits:

+ This holiday, Kassie’s papa saw Santa. Apparently the television was in front of the fireplace so he had to move it so he could get down the chimney and deliver all of their presents.

+ Kevin and Kristopher’s inner boy scout came out and they created an indestructible rope using tissue paper and fishing knots. The result? An unbeatable game of tug of war against Kassie (see last photo).

+ My mom was excited to use the selfie stick that she got in the Philippines last month to get a family photo (second to last photo).

+ Rob and I learned how to make a Christmas ham! Expect this on all Van/Santos holiday tables from now on.

+ Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but I’m pretty sure my dad’s favorite Christmas gift was a professional tournament-grade ping pong paddle. It’s kind of his new obsession and he wakes up my little brothers every day before school to play with them.

+ Andrew has proven to be a worthy addition to our family. His octopus ceviche knocked it out of the park and he gave everyone the sweetest potted plant that he created from one of his heirloom fern cuttings.

 

A Lesson In Preparing Seafood

Last year, I was invited to participate in the Taste of Georgetown’s Iron Chef Competition with Yelp. I was paired up with a local chef to create a meal using our secret ingredient, red snapper. While we did not win, I was proud of myself for creating a delicious entree and was excited about the possibility of using red snapper in my recipes down the road.

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Fast forward a year later. It was a long summer afternoon and for the first time ever, Rob and I had not committed ourselves to anything. It was time to resurrect my red snapper dreams…and this time I was not going to get some high falootin’ filet at Whole Foods, I was going to do a whole fish bake, Laura Ingalls Wilder style.

I headed out to Grand Mart, a local Asian grocery paradise and found exactly what I was looking for…and for a steal I might add! The eyes were not exactly the clearest, but it was about 9:00 pm (I get most of my weird ideas in the night time) and I didn’t really have any other options. Plus it was already gutted so that was already a plus. I put it in a plastic bag and off we went!

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The recipe was amazingly simple: I stuffed the insides with fresh rosemary and lemons and seasoned the outside with a variety of spices, slammed it in an oven and fifteen minutes later I was rewarded with white flaky, buttery fish perfection.

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Doesn’t this look so freaking rustic? I mean, not to toot my own horn or anything but it is totally Kinfolk worthy. That being said, I neglected one big step in preparing fish. Apparently… you have to scale it first.

What?!!

As a child, I prided myself in being able to gut and scale a whole fish in less than 15 minutes (I was definitely a card carrying member of Club Swanson) but as an adult I have gotten used to the conveniences of frozen, skinless, and deboned fish from Giant. It was a sad day indeed.

The fish was still pretty awesome (scales aside) and the meat was moist and flaky but you bet your bottom dollar that I will be recreating this recipe soon, fish scaler in hand.

Everybody Vamanos!

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Last week I went to Mexico and fell hopelessly, deeply in love with a little brown boy named Ronin. You may remember that I mentioned Ronin a few weeks ago and that although he was cute, he was still a baby blob. Well, now at two months old he is a baby blob that can smile and coo and keep eye contact with you. He also loves belly rubs.

We were in Mexico to celebrate our friend Erica’s wedding (Erica also happens to be the sister of Rob’s brother’s wife which is why Ronin was on this trip). This trip was vastly different than my Cancun vacay of years past, but in a good way. Playa Del Carmen is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen….miles and miles of powder soft white sand and gentle turquoise water. You could see straight through the bottom of the ocean and it was not uncommon to see schools of fish swim by.

We stayed at an eco resort so there were tons of animals that roamed around the grounds. Everything from lizards, iguanas, donkeys, cats, trained birds, and even monkeys were in plain sight at all times. How cool is that?

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While most of our time was spent lounging on the beach (or dancing at la discoteca) we went EXTREME for one of our excursions through Edventure Tours. Our full day tour included an ATV ride and zip line through the jungle, snorkeling in an underground cave (Holy Xanax Batman! I’m not going to lie, I barely saw any fish in here because I was too busy having a panic attack in the dark), swimming in a cenote (beautiful, serene and refreshing) rock climbing, repelling and snorkeling with the sea turtles and a carol reef in Akumal (Rob got nervous because I swam over a sting ray, but luckily I survived).

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The trip was amazing and was a great reminder that I need to go on more vacations.

Let Freedom Ring!

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“Mommy! I want to live in an apartment building!” – Kassie

This little one had a blast at Kimi and Uncle Rob’s apartment building this past Fourth of July. She oohed and ahhed over the balloons and red, white, and blue sprinkled cookies at the front desk, got tons of attention from the other residents in the building who probably have not seen a child in years, she explored the spray ground across the street, and even got to watch three fireworks shows (Capitol, National Harbor and Alexandria) right from our rooftop.

There was a buy one, get two free sale at the fireworks stand across the street which also allowed us to expand our nighttime amusement. Luckily, my sister and I were able to get over our childhood fear of holding sparklers just in time to join in on the backyard fun!

 

 

Produce Power: Sweet Corn Ice Cream

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Many people are surprised to find out that in my toddler years I had a brief stint in the Philippines. It was through this stay that I developed a love for: canned meat, dried fish, and corn (also called mais) ice cream.

This farm fresh treat makes use of the sweet flavor of summertime corn and turns it into a refreshingly, cold, rich, and not-too-sugary desert. Whenever I want to get a fix, I usually head down to my local Filipino mart and grab a gallon of Magnolia brand ice cream but like many commercially bought items it is full of preservatives and artificial coloring.

My sister Kat had recently gifted me with a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker so I decided in addition to becoming an artisan bread maker, I would also try my hand at artisan ice cream making!

And not to toot my own horn or anything but the result was delectable! I think the key to this recipe was using fresh, organic ingredients as much as possible. You can really taste the difference when using high quality dairy, freshly picked corn, and the sweet molasses taste of turbinado cane sugar. Warning! This recipe uses a French style custard base so it is extremely rich! Next time I will try a Philadelphia style base which has no eggs in it.

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Recipe
2 cups of whole milk
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of powdered milk (this helps stabilize the base)
8 egg yolks
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of fresh corn kernels

Directions
1. Add sugar and powdered milk into a food processor and pulse until fine
2. In a saucepan, heat whole milk, sugar, powdered milk, and corn kernels and simmer until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Beat egg yolks in separate bowl until thickened
4. Slowly add one cup of hot milk into egg yolks and whisk until blended.
5. Slowly pour egg yolk and milk mixture into saucepan. Increase heat to medium and stir constantly until the base has the consistency of gravy.
6. Add cream, vanilla and let cool to room temperature.7. Refrigerate overnight.
8. The next day add the mixture into ice cream maker as directed.
9. Once churned, put in a pyrex bowl with saran wrap beneath the cover (this helps prevent freezer burn) and freeze for an additional three hours.

Enjoy!

 

A Night Out in Centreville

I grew up in the town of Centreville, Virginia. When I moved there at five years old, it was pretty much a one horse  town. We didn’t even have a Burger King until I was a junior in high school. I lived on five acres of land and one time when I was walking my dog I saw two emu running in the woods. It turns out they had escaped from the emu farm down the street.

A lot of things have changed since my family moved out of the area several years ago, now it is known as Little Korea with attractions such as Spa World (a 24 hour Korean bathhouse) and Bon Chon (Korean Fried Chicken) running the show.

Our friends Timmy and Samantha recently moved out there so when they invited us for a night out it involved three of my favorite Korean things: soju, karaoke and late night barbeque!

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