Friday, April 14, 2006

Trader Joes: My top 10 list

Here is my top 10 list from Trader Joes. In true Letterman style, I will start with #10:

10. Frozen Turkey Meatballs
9. Goat cheese - the 3 pack of different flavors
8. Kashi Go Lean Crunch
7. Pecans and Walnuts, either halves or chopped
6. Frozen Brown Rice (you just nuke it for 3 minutes, and it is tasty!)
5. Goat Milk Yogurt
4. Airborne Pink Grapefruit
3. Trader Joes Sunscreen (I am a little fuzzy on the product details)
2. Basil in the clamshell - just the right amount for a recipe of pesto

and my number 1 favorite thing at Trader Joes:

anything in the Dark Chocolate family. I was doing to try to limit it to one item, but I don't think that is fair. I like the Dark Chocolate covered almonds, the plain bars of Dark Chocolate (72% +) and even the chocolate soy milk. If it has dark chocolate, there is a good chance I will like it....

So, what are your favorites?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Let's Do Lunch! Not!

One of my favorite networking activities is almost unavailable these days - I like to have lunch with colleagues I work with. I use this as a time to connect with different departments in my work area, keep in touch with new developments across the organization, and meet new people in my line of work. Sadly, I don't have time! If I am not taking my daughter between daycare and preschool (this is supposed to be an enhanced experience for her!) I am trying to squeeze in a work-out. No more three martini lunches for me (do those still exist?). Now I have to settle for coffee dates. Not quite as satisfying as sharing a meal with someone - that is when real bonding can take place. It also means I have to get more creative with my networking, fitting it in at preschool pickups, arranging playdates with interesting families, chatting up people in the grocery store.

Fortunately, some of my colleagues have kids too and work hard on this whole balance thing, so when I suggest alternatives to lunch, they are usually game. In a year when my daughter starts Kindergarten, maybe that will be the time to fit the lunches back in. Hope my network will still be there!

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Eating out with Kids? Are we nuts?

In the last 10 days, we have taken our two kids, age 5.5 and almost 4, out to eat at two unexpectedly kid-friendly restaurants. Not that our kids are obnoxious, or ill-behaved, but because these restaurants actually welcomed them!

The first is Kabul in San Carlos - while that is a bit of a hike for most of us in Menlo Park/Palo Alto, it is worth the drive to this Afghan restaurant located in an obscure strip-mall off El Camino. This is the second time we have visited with the kids, and both times have been excellent. First off, there are always lots of other families in there when we are dining. Second of all, my kids are loopy about their lentil soup. So, we always start with that, and then we order kebabs (lamb and salmon are awesome!) and an side or entree of these beautiful pillow like pastas, filled with either ground lamb or leeks and cheese. There is a yogurt sauce over the top that brings the whole dish together. With our entrees, bread is served, which the kids also inhale. Also a salad, which my son likes to poach the tomatoes and cucumbers from. And, with wine by the glass, we are all set.

Our second recommendation is Cafe Silan in Menlo Park. We just finished eating at this Kurdish restaurant tonight - it has been about a year since we had been there last. Once again, the lentil soup was a big hit with the kids, and the server brought milk for both in pretty glasses with straws. Our entrees were two house specials - Mast U Gost and another pasta pillows dish with feta and spinach (can you tell what I like?). Tastes as though the management revamped the menu, with great results. The service was friendly and quick and they brought out food for the kids early without asking. And the house bread was great, with a yogurt dill dipping sauce.

Both places will be part of our regular restaurant rotation - the best part will be telling my in-laws from Iowa that my kids enjoy Afghan and Kurdish cuisine! Priceless!