Posts in February, 2012

Slow Cooked Asian Pork Ribs

Monday, February 27th, 2012

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Slow Cooked Asian Pork Ribs 

by Gabrielle Moes, Owner and Executive Chef of Seasons Catering

As a working mom, I am all too familiar with the dreaded evening witching hour; and if your house is anything like mine, it usually begins with, “Mom! What’s for dinner?” with a quickly ensuing wail of, “But I’m hungry now!!!!” In this predicament, my career as a chef definitely has its advantages, especially when I have spent my workday creating new recipes and I have a fridge full of leftovers. But, more often than not I am asking myself the same question you are…it’s 5 o’clock, the kids are melting down, and what am I going to cook for dinner?!?

If, like me, you are dedicated to providing your family with healthy and delicious home cooked meals, then the best trick of the trade I can give is to plan your meals ahead. When I find myself with the time, I will prepare a few components of several meals for the upcoming week. I also am not too proud to use culinary short cuts when I can; one of which is (gasp now) the slow cooker. If you have never invested in one for fear of the canned cream of broccoli creations of your childhood, I dare you to rethink! Many of my weeknight recipes include the use of the slow cooker because (here is trick of the trade #2) “low and slow” develops great flavor and is a lot safer than keeping your oven or stove unattended all day!

So, please enjoy some of my favorite recipes that your whole family will surely love and at the same time, hopefully say goodbye to the “oh no, what’s for dinner?!?” nightmares.

Asian-Braised-Ribs-potatoes

Asian Pork Ribs

2-3 lbs pork ribs (bone in or out)
¾ cups sherry
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Hoisin Sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 3” cinnamon sticks
1 Tablespoon thinly sliced ginger

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-6. Meat will fall off of the bone if you are using bone in and will shred if using boneless. Serve over rice with your favorite stir-fried vegetables, or with potatoes and roasted vegetables.

Gabrielle Moes is the owner and executive chef of Seasons Catering and mother to three children. She spent 7 years as the executive chef of the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club before starting Seasons Catering.

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Seasons Catering is a full service catering company dedicated to creating memorable events through its impeccable service, exquisite food, and creative presentations. They are proud to create menus to suit every catering need and budget, and are determined to maintain high standards of service and presentation whatever the event may be.

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Paper Culture Giveaway

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

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I am thrilled to share the news that Paper Culture (one of my favorite partners) is offering a very special promotion for Sweet Peas & Stilettos readers – Get 10 FREE cards from Paper Culture! (Use ‘FREE10’ at checkout).  Paper Culture has raised the bar on being eco-friendly. Their cards and envelopes are made from  100% post-consumer recycled materials, they only use recycled materials in their packaging, and they will even plant a tree in your honor with each and every order.

I have also been continually pleased with their modern designs, the weight of the paper (no cheap looking flimsy cards here!) and their use of  rounded corners on all of their cards. When you receive a card from Paper Culture it feels special.

Shop their party invitations, baby announcements, personalized stationery and more. And don’t forget to order your 10 FREE cards from Paper Culture! Use ‘FREE10’ at checkout. Shop Now!

The scoop: This 10 free cards offer is available through March 7th, 2012. It is good for new customers, cannot be combined with other offers and do not include taxes or the cost of shipping. A little hint – if you use their mail and message delivery system, which would just include the cost of the stamp, they will take care of mailing your cards and you won’t have to pay any shipping.

Altruette Charm Bracelets

Friday, February 24th, 2012

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How gorgeous and utterly fabulous is this charm bracelet? Love it love it love it! So here is the scoop. I was reading Maria Shriver’s site (which I also love) and I read this great article by Julie Schlosser and Lee Clifford, two former Fortune Magazine journalists who left their day jobs to start Altruette, a line of jewelry that raises money and awareness for non-profits. The article reminded me a little of my own adventures of starting a company.  As an added twist to their story both Julie and Jane got pregnant in the midst of launching their company. Can you imagine? Holy cow.

This wonderful charm bracelet has a unique philanthropic twist: each charm represents a different non-profit organization, which receives a substantial portion of every sale. How cool is that? In addition to the spectacular shopping I must admit I was in awe reading about these non-profit organizations and the variety of unique services they provide. Check out their site to learn about these inspiring organizations.

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So yes, you too can look good and do good in 2012…yeah!

Wedding Invitations Ideas

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

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Even though my wedding was almost a decade ago, I must admit I had a lot of fun creating my latest section on Sweet Peas & Stilettos – Wedding Invitations – Ideas & More. This is just the beginning as I build out a lot more content with the best wedding goodies I can find online. Invitations have come a long long way since my day. Luckily I am not getting married this year because I don’t know how any bride to be is supposed to choose. These three are some of my absolute favorites and all available on Minted. You can Shop Minted’s Unique Wedding Invitations today or head on over to Sweet Peas & Stilettos’ Wedding Invitations page for a wonderful selection of invites.

Goodnight Construction Site

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld

reviewed by Susan Fry

On one family vacation, I was horrified to discover that our hotel was right next to a construction site.  From dawn to dusk, enormous yellow machines whirred and dug, screeched and poured, loaded and dumped.  And did I mention the whirring and screeching?

But while this meant no naps for any of us, my two-year-old son was in heaven.  He sat on our balcony and watched those trucks all day long.

For machine-loving kids like him, it’s hard to imagine a better going-to-bed book than Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site.   The book has just the right mix of soft and screech for even the most rough-and-tumble child.

All the machines on the construction site work hard during the day, “To build a building, make a road,/To get the job done – load by load!”  But when the sun sets, they finish their jobs, one by one, and go to bed.

Each truck stars in its own bedtime routine, spread over multiple pages, so kids get ample chance to see their favorites in action.  And each machine has a different, appealing personality.  The cheerful crane is drawn with a broad smile, while the “dizzy” cement mixer has googly eyes.

Kids will catch on right away to the similarities between the trucks’ bedtimes and their own.  Crane Truck “raises one last beam,” then “tucks himself in nice and tight” with a teddy bear in his folded arms.  After Cement Mixer makes one final spin, “he takes a bath, gets shiny-bright,/Pulls up his chute, turns off his light.”  And as for Bulldozer?  “No one’s as tough and strong as he,/But now he’s sleepy as can be.”  He curls into a “soft dirt bed” as if he’s cuddling with a blankie.

Lichtenheld’s oil pastels let the texture of his paper show through, which gives the drawings a friendly, touchable quality.   The colors change from the warm yellows of daytime to a cool blue night that isn’t too dark.  And as the rhymes gradually move from jaunty exclamation points to a quiet “Shh . . . . goodnight,” they might just inspire some other noisy machines to go to sleep, too!

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

You can check out the Sweet Peas & Stilettos’ children’s books page for quick access to all of Susan’s wonderful children’s book reviews.


Women on the Fence Feature

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

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I am super thrilled to share the news that my article on starting a business while you keep your day job was published today on Erica Diamond’s (don’t you wish your last name was ‘Diamond’ too – then everyone would know what to buy you for your birthday!) website, WomenontheFence.com. I have spoken to a lot of women on the topic of starting a company and I am a strong believer that you should start now, and quit your day job later. Check out Erica’s fabulous website for the full scoop.

The Honest Company

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

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Believing that each and every baby deserves the best, celebrity mom Jessica Alba and her business partner, former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, Christopher Gavigan (who just happens to be the husband of wonderful actress and mom Jessica Capshaw which makes him Steven Spielberg’s son-in-law) launched The Honest Company. Their line of baby products (diapers, bath, body and cleaning products) are not only “effective, but unquestionably safe, eco-friendly, beautiful, convenient, and affordable.” I just love the colors and designs on the packaging. You’ll want to leave the products out on the counter instead of hiding it in a cupboard. The diapers come in a number of really cute designs too.

And with every product you purchase, “The Honest Company donates product, money, time, and effort to addressing critical health & social issues affecting children and families.” With a perfect combination of savvy style and passion for social goodness – what’s not to love.

Hermès Birkin Bag

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

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Have you ever bought yourself a Valentine’s Day present? I often like to use these Hallmark holidays as an excuse to splurge on a little treat for myself. If you want to go all out this year – go big (really big!) and get that Birkin bag you have always dreamed of.

The RealReal, Inc is partnering with Heritage Auctions Private Collections to offer you a curated selection of rare Hermès Birkin handbags for Valentine’s Day. They have five gorgeous Birkins left in an array of colors and sizes. Heritage Auctions is the leading and trusted source for vintage and pre-owned handbags and accessories in the luxury market.

Note: I’ve purchased a few Chanel treasures from The RealReal, Inc and have been super happy with my purchases and shopping experience. Love them!

Rama and the Demon King

Friday, February 10th, 2012

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Rama and the Demon King: An Ancient Tale from India, by Jessica Souhami

Reviewed by Susan Fry

Get ready for some culture.  Oh, and also for some Demon fighting!

The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India.  It was written in Sanskrit around the 4th century B.C., supposedly by a poet named Valmiki.  In its more than 50,000 lines, the poem explores the nature of parenthood, kingship, and marriage, among many, many, many other things.

Pretty heavy going for a five year old, right?

Not if you read Rama and the Demon King.  Souhami has managed to distill the poem down to its essence.  She’s also captured the reason the tale has survived for so long:  it’s a gripping story filled with demons, kidnappings, betrayal, and true love.  And a flying monkey king!

The hero, Rama, seems to have it all.  He’s a prince with a loving wife (Sita) and a loyal brother (Lakshman).  But then Rama’s stepmother persuades the king to banish Rama.  Rama, Sita, and Lakshman find themselves battling demons in the forest.  The biggest, baddest demon of them all is the ten-headed Ravana.  Ravana kidnaps Sita, and Rama asks the flying Monkey King, Hanuman, for help.  After a huge battle, Rama kills Ravana and saves Sita.

Souhami chooses simple words in short sentences.  But her descriptions are so clear and original they amplify the drama:  “A terrible battle began.  The demons tried all their evil tricks.”  Ravana didn’t just smile, he “smiled ten horrible smiles.”  Cliffhangers will keep kids turning pages eagerly until the end, when “Ravana was DEAD.”

Like the language, the illustrations are both beautiful and simple.  Blocky, stylized figures in warm yellows, oranges, and browns leap across spare, white pages.

Hopefully Souhami will tackle Paradise Lost next.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

You can check out the Sweet Peas & Stilettos’ children’s books page for quick access to all of Susan’s wonderful children’s book reviews.


Get a $10 iTunes Code & Save 10% on Flowers & Gifts $49.99+ at 1800Flowers.com! Use Promotion Code ITUNES at checkout. - 300x250

glassybaby

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

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In 1998, Lee Rhodes, glassybaby creator and founder, was raising her three small children and fighting what would become a 7-year battle with a rare form of lung cancer. She fell in love with these fabulous hand blown glass vessels and the way they radiated light with a simple tea candle and added color and cheer to any table. Over the next few years, Lee learned to blow glass and she created glassybaby. To Lee, these colorful vessels represented “that deep breath that we often forget to take.” The success of glassybaby has enabled the company to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities dedicated to health, healing and quality of life. Lee Rhodes is a true inspiration for us all.