I know…it’s been a minute.
2018 was a blur—particularly the latter half. But I’ve received so many wonderful inquiries of what’s going on…..and if we’re still partaking in our monthly Family Dinner Foodventures.
We are most DEFINITELY still crafting and executing our Fam Dins…over 6.5 years later. ❤
So I’m doing my best to edit pics and recap what we’ve been up to for the past few months to catch you all up to speed. I hope to be up to date in the next few weeks–so they’ll be lots for you to see soon.
Let me rewind back to the summer where we somehow managed to get everyone’s schedule aligned and squeezed into a rental for the weekend. Let me tell you, this was quite the feat!
Even though we were only in Newport Beach (where I spent most of my college years lounging on the sand and frequenting the local watering holes….uh……I MEAN I WAS STUDYING!) my siblings and I have not been on “vacation” all together since maybe the early 90s? And even at that point, I can’t recall where we went. Camping? Maybe Yosemite?
So it was very special that we’d be spending the weekend together –less than a 100 feet away from the sand. What can I say? We’re beach people.
Because it was such an unusual Family Dinner (more like a Family Weekend getaway) this recap won’t feature what we cooked as much and the photos were mostly taken from our phones. But I hope you can get an idea of some of the shenanigans we had.
And it all started because of this one!
Yup, seester P hit the big 5-0…..and had wanted to do something memorable to celebrate. I’d say a beach getaway with her family fits that bill.
She looks more like 30-something. Good genes and great skincare will do that for you.
We also celebrated the other July babies that weekend too!
Seester N, Luna and B.I.L. R were also our special honorees.
When we arrived Friday afternoon, we spent some time getting situated into our digs and unpacking all of our groceries.
The house was super cute — 3 levels /4 bedrooms with an upstairs living space that opened up to the balcony. And my favorite beachy feature—an outdoor shower.
I think Brother V was pretty stoked about it all.
As we settled in, Leo decided to head out to the beach and break in his kite…..
While S.I.L. L and Luna took a quick dip in the warm water.
Bella (never not “on duty”) took up a post to protect her family.
Of course there was some snacking. Essentials like chicken sausages, Cheetos and Sidecar Doughnuts.
While I opted to take advantage of the deck and sunshine with some chilled Rosé with seester.
Why are all of the older munchkins towering over us?
But it is convenient for those times when I can’t reach things in the top cabinets.
Then it was time to start prepping Dinner #1 of the weekend.
K had some beautiful fresh ahi flown in from the islands and we put Nini to work on getting the Poke ready. Her knife skills are seriously on point.
Chunks of Ocean Love.
Good name for my next cook book.
Yup…even when it’s your birthday, we put you to work.
Here is P’s Peach and Kale Salad with Goat Cheese and Walnuts.
Since P and her clan live in SF, she really misses out when Brother randomly gets inspired and starts firing up his smoker. Since she was in SoCal, she wanted to take advantage of her visit (and her bday gal status!) and requested that he make his Smoked Tri Tip with Whipped Horseradish Cream.
Here he is searing the Tri Tip after it was smoked. Really one of my favs that he makes.
By then Pops finally arrived so he took a tour of the house while drinking a glass of vino…like the G he is.
Dad also brought us some tomatoes from his garden — beautiful little jewels!
Cocktails: Suntory Toki Whisky, Veuve Clicquot, Various Wines
Entrees: Smoked Tri Tip with Whipped Horseradish Cream, Smoked Duck (not pictured), Spicy Ahi Poke, Shoyu Poke
Sides: Peach and Kale Salad with Goat Cheese and Walnuts, Tomato and Basil Salad, Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Dessert: La Bete Noire (“The Black Beast” Flourless Chocolate Cake)
Told ya that the pics aren’t 100%. But trust me….it was delicious.
I spy our fur babies in the background enjoying their dinners. ❤
Obligatory dinner pic!
Obligatory ginormous bottle of Justin Cabernet Sauvignon pic!
Those summer nights…..
We loved this little patio.
This is his “why are you taking pictures of me while I eat” look.
It’s what we do Dad…it’s what we do.
I love Newport.
And then it was time for P to blow out her birthday candles!
I made “La Bete Noire”… translation: The Black Beast.
It was a super decadent, flourless chocolate cake covered in a layer of chocolate ganache.
And when there’s a French named cake, there must be French champagne!
It’s an undeniable rule…
that I just made up.
Pops and the Bday gal.
We like to drink Veuve Clicquot in cheap plastic cups….it keeps us honest.
FAM BAM! ❤
At this point, I was fairly certain that one of us was going to have to buy this house so that we could keep it in the family.
As for Princess Leia, she was already exhausted.
She’s not used to all of those stairs!
T and I took that as a cue to change into our PJs.
You don’t have matching PJs with your siblings?
That’s also about the point where the girls broke into the s’mores stash and the jigsaw puzzles.
Safe to say, Leo was a fan of the S’mores.
Kaelani opted to spend a little time with Paw Patrol before bed.
And that’s when T also decided to prep one of the desserts for Dinner #2 -a New York Cheesecake, per P’s request.
Look how focused my Lucas looks with that hand mixer.
I have no idea what time it is at this point because I went to bed at around 2am.
But the girls were still up, steadily working on that puzzle.
In fact, Nini and Maya stayed up the ENTIRE night! Oh how it is to be young!
They ended up walking to the beach to watch the sun rise while the rest of the house was passed out!
And lucky for us because that meant that we woke up to the smell of Nini frying SPAM! Oh the glorious aromas of SPAM frying in the morning cannot be beat!
And yes, that was a lot of SPAM.
But we were like a mini-army —so it was ok.
P also really wanted Monkey Bread for breakfast — I know, she sure did have A LOT of requests!
So big seester N obliged and put together this 50,000 lb. dome of sugary, doughy goodness.
That glisten tho’!
While breakfast was getting situated, an epic checkers match was going down.
At that point, these two could wait no longer and dug into the Monkey Bread.
I paired mine with a glass of Rosé.
Hey-I was on vacay!
If I hadn’t said it before, Kaelani LOVES being around her big cousins. Her face just lights up being around them.
In other news…
Someone was living her best life.
Then N jumped on the back of V and L’s Vespa to snap this pic. I swear that there’s a similar black/white pic of Mom back in Viet Nam on a scooter like this. I’ve got to find it.
It was also about this time when N declared that she wanted a birthday dessert of her own choosing. Luckily she chose a Key Lime Pie —not only one of my favorite desserts, but also fairly simple to make.
We realized that we needed to pick up a couple of essential ingredients at the store but if you’re familiar with beach towns in the summer– street parking is terrible! Which is exactly why V and L brought their Vespa that weekend–for quick errand runs and also for us to cruise around Newport and Balboa.
Cue in Nina and L.
The eldest munchkin had never been on a scooter before so Brother plunked a helmet on her….
…and sent her zipping away with L!
Her peals of laughter as she zoomed away was hysterical. Also, Luna’s look of shock in the background while she was dutifully walking Leia was equally entertaining.
Don’t worry….the scooter wasn’t on when they took this.
N also decided to take advantage of her bday gal status and requested that V sharpen her kitchen knives.
Yes…she brought her knives from home.
And yes….he brought a whetstone.
It may not be what your family does on vacay—but it’s what we do!
At this point, Nini started braiding Maya’s hair…..
And ended up braiding Luna and Kaelani’s too!
And then I felt left out….so she braided my hair, too.
Since we had planned to spend the entire day in the sand and water, N thought it would be a great idea to pack a picnic lunch so that we could enjoy it leisurely in between naps and swim time.
She made tons of Roast Chicken-Pesto Sandwiches on Ciabatta and Roast Beef Croissant Sammies. We also made some quick SPAM Fried Rice from the leftovers at breakfast and packed it up along with lots of chips, cold watermelon wedges and drinks.
California Love ❤
Staking our claim to our little piece of paradise.
Look at these happy faces ❤
As much as I love my SoCal life, I’m still guilty for taking all of this for granted sometimes.
Watermelon break to cool down.
Time to jump in!
Actually, I think Lucas maybe trying to throw Leo in here.
There were LOTS of sandcastle building.
And at some point, Nini caught a TON of sand crabs.
It makes me quite happy that our beach babies are not afraid to get all sandy.
Luna sure does love to dig sand pits….
I wonder where she gets that from?
I mean, someone’s got to get buried in the sand, right?
Maya was such a trooper.
And of course….
I love how much our munchkins love each other.
It makes this Auntie’s heart burst. ❤
Is Lucas trying to pilfer a sand crab here??
Obligatory peace sign pose.
About to frolic in the waves.
I have to admit to you….about 1 minute after this pic was taken, I did a cartwheel.
And then totally crashed on my head.
Oh it was quite the scene!
Then I could not stop laughing.
I SWEAR I CAN DO CARTWHEELS!
And what is it about the beach that makes it the most perfect napping spot?
The sun? The snacks? The swimming?
Some of us napped for awhile and then at around 4pm, we decided to head back into the house to shower and clean up.
Ms. Kaelani decided she also needed a post beach manicure.
T spent some QT with her fur nieces on the patio.
Bella seemed to be having the nap of her life while Leia was trying to figure out how she could squeeze in on that lap too.
The boys opted to catch up on an intense poker tournament on TV.
No clue people, no clue.
Leia finally gave up outside and opted for a quiet corner indoors.
And Maya, with that never ending youthful energy, decided to take a ride on the boardwalk with her dad.
Her shirt was totes appropriate.
We then decided to put out some snackies while folks mulled around.
Because being hangry is one thing BUT having a house FULL of hangry people is a natural disaster and should be avoided at all cost.
We sure do adore us some Charcuterie.
We also thought it would be a good idea to take some fun family pics on the sand before it got too dark.
N and her clan had just gotten back from an epic trip to Thailand & Viet Nam and had brought us back souvenirs that we decided to wear in the photos. They gave the women/girls billowy pants that are worn when visiting the temples in Thailand. The men got knockoff/pun Patagonia tshirts that said “Saigonia”. For the two younger boys, they received bucket hats with fruit prints all over—apparently the rage in the coastal towns of VN.
Our July Babies!
Dad and his kiddos.
Grandpa with his grandchildren (including his fur grandchildren)….minus Kaelani. She was feeling a bit shy at that moment.
Nguyen Sibbies ❤
The Big Dudes.
And now EVERY ONE!
The Nguyen Kids.
So different and somehow, so alike.
Being the youngest had its ups and downs.
But my big seesters and brother… they sure do crack me up all the time.
T and R.
I’ve got hundreds of pictures of us doing the exact same pose.
And then it was time to get our last dinner on the table.
Since P got to pick what she wanted for Friday’s dinner, our other July Babies got to dictate Dinner #2.
Luna LOVES pasta in red sauce so I fixed up big batches of slow cooked marinara.
R always wants lamb chops so T was tasked with grilling those.
As for N –her only request was pie and I was all about it.
Cocktails: Suntory Toki Whisky, Various Wines
Entrees: Rosemary Garlic Lamb Chops, Farfalle with Marinara, Panko Crusted Ahi Patties
Sides: Mixed Fried Rice, Mustard Roasted Garlic Potatoes
Dessert: New York Style Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie
We train them young, we train them well.
July is a poppin’ month for us when it comes to birthdays!
Luna’s birthday falls smack dab in between her two aunties.
P’s is on the 13th, N’s is on the 15th and Luna’s is on the 14th. Forever surrounded with love by her aunties. ❤
The rest of the night was spent with moonlit bike/Vespa rides, more games and lots and lots of laughter.
Before we knew it…it was Sunday morning and it was time for us to go home.
None of us really wanted too….the beach casa was OUR home now after all, too.
So I gave the kiddos popsicles for breakfast to help ease the pain.
(Yes, they ate other stuff too.)
Once the house was clean and our cars were packed, we bade our beach house a final adieu!
A certain puggle was REALLY not happy about it.
(Someone tell Bella that we live 1.5 miles away from the beach! #FirstPuggleProblems)
But before we all parted our separate ways, we decided to grab one last meal together at a nearby restaurant – Pitfire Pizza
As tired as we all were from a full weekend, it was bittersweet to end things. When you spend that much time with each other, you kind of get used to being around a crowd.
But at least we had one more meal together…
So we tucked into brunch and ordered dishes like:
Smashed Avocado Toast with Charred Corn and Chives
The Big Sur Pizza which had Gulf Shrimp, Tomato, Four Cheese, Mint, Chile –and we added on Prosciutto and Arugula.
The Burrata Pizza – Caramelized Onion, Arugula, Pesto, Hazelnuts…and we added on La Quercia Prosciutto.
And finally, the Sausage Party Pizza – Bacon, Sausage, Salami, Coppa, Tomato, Saba.
What a delicious way to end the weekend!
Sure—barely 48 hours but what a blast we had! And we’re all hoping that it becomes a regular family tradition.
As B.I.L. C says – “Y’all come back now- ya hear!”