The draft of my New Year's Resolutions post keeps staring at me, but despite doing great on a few of my 2016 goals I am doing TERRIBLE on the most important one and I'm determined to have something positive to say before I post it. I mean, we're already 7 weeks late, what's a few more?
On the bright side, I'm working out a TON and my body has adjusted and I no longer pass out when I hit my bed and I feel strong and flexible and just really really good. I substitute-taught barre on Friday, taught my class on Saturday, taught my workshop on Saturday two hours later (SO FUN!), ran and went to yoga on Monday, taught class Tuesday night, taught class tonight, and am teaching Friday morning. It feels fantastic. I have some fresh faces in class, I have some regulars I'm getting to know well, and I'm getting close to the one-year anniversary of the day my barre teacher/mentor asked if I'd would ever be interested in teaching and my heart jumped into my chest and with a glorious, life-affirming mix of joy and utter terror, I yell/texted YES!!!!! in reply. Truly one of the best, most fun, most rewarding (most Lululemon addiction enabling) things I've ever done. I can't imagine not being able to have this bright, beautiful thing in my life and it has very much affected my vision of my future legal career path.
In other bright and beautiful news, our back patio is done! And it looks great!
Also, redoing your back deck is a quick and utterly painless remodel after having done three bathrooms and a kitchen. The crew arrived early Saturday morning and finished Monday. Besides the obvious deck work, they did a lot of small but important maintenance things. So the deck is refinished and is now a pleasant blue grey as opposed to a strange dark orange (I like orange, but it did not go with our house or yard at all). We have a bench! My addition to the plan and finally somewhere to put people's towels and bags that isn't the table with all the food. Several exterior doors (we have 9) have been reframed and reblocked so the rain won't make them rot anymore (our deck isn't covered- and I don't want it to be because I adore all the natural light we get and the trees give us more than enough shade- but it is a little rough on the extensive door and window frames). The giant white structure has been removed from the small patio and a step has been added all the way around. (Concrete staining- another pleasant blue/grey color is coming next week.) And, most important- and most expensively- WE HAVE LIGHT! Our backyard has never had an exterior light. Apparently in nearly 70 years, no owner of this house has wanted to be outside after dark, but we do and now we can! The kids acted like we'd invented electricity when we switched them on and they could ride their bikes around the pool and play on the playground after the sun went down. I'm so, so excited about this.
We also had a bunch of electrical stuff done on the inside - all the rest of our recessed lights have been switched out to LEDs (we did most with the kitchen remodel), which means for the first time ever all the lights in our TV room, bedroom, and bathroom hang at the same level, turn on at the same time, AND burn at the same intensity. Our TV room has 4 lights, but only 3 dimmed, so every time we watched a movie, we'd dim the 3 and then James would stand on his tiptoes and unscrew the bulb of #4. This will no longer be necessary and we were practically giddy when we dimmed them Monday night for the premiere of Better Call Saul.
As I mentioned last time, our beautiful sideboard is here and I love it so much and have filled it with nearly every breakable thing I own. It was damaged slightly in shipment- the little magnets on the inside that keep the doors closed were broken off, a big crack across an interior piece of wood, and a few chips on the outside. I contacted Wayfair with pictures and they immediately wrote back with an offer to send us four replacement magnets and a $150 discount. I wrote back, accepting the offer and thanking them for their quick response. The next morning I woke up to an email letting me know that the magnets weren't available from the manufacturer, so they were shipping me a WHOLE NEW SIDEBOARD. First of all, amazing. Second of all, too amazing. It's a 300 lb, 6 foot long, gigantic piece of furniture- we're already going to spend the next month trying to get all the wrapping materials cycled through our trash and recycle bins, so I called and said wait, if you're willing to do that- and THANK YOU for being willing to do that- can we just take a bigger discount and save you the trouble of buying and shipping a whole new item to us? (And us the hassle of dealing with two of the gigantic items?). And that's how I ended up with nearly 50% off my beautiful birthday present and a lifelong commitment to shopping at Wayfair. Which given that the TV room is where I'm turning my decorating attentions to next, it shouldn't be a problem to indulge that commitment early and often.
And finally, in other wonderful but completely unrelated things, have you had spasagna? It's spaghetti lasagna and there are lots of recipes, but I have made my own (adapted from here, with way less cheese, which is a rare change for me to make but it was delicious) and think you all should eat it.
1 lb (16 ounces) spaghetti noodles, uncooked
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used 1.5; originally recipe called for 4)
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup half-and-half (I do 1/3 skim milk, 2/3 heavy cream b/c I never have half and half but always have the other two)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 (24 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray/grease a 9x13 baking dish.
2. Cook spaghetti al dente according to package directions.
3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, half-and-half, mozzarella, oregano, basil, pepper, garlic, salt, and Parmesan cheese.
4. Add drained spaghetti to cheese mixture, mixing gently until spaghetti is evenly coated with mixture.
5. Gently place spaghetti mixture into prepared dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
6. Remove from oven, remove foil and place dish on cooling rack for 10 minutes.
7. While pasta is cooking, prepare the meat sauce by browning ground beef with onion and garlic. Add spaghetti sauce and let simmer for about ten minutes.
8. Cut baked pasta into into squares and top with meat sauce.
So simple. So delicious. Pretend we ate it with a side salad. Big hit with the whole family. As is the kids' new obsession with America Ninja Warrior, a show Claire has never even seen and Landon has seen maybe once. They make obstacle courses everywhere and I Love how the big kids are trying to be all tough and Cora is just beaming with "I'M HERE! I'M A BIG KID! I'M DOING THE BIG KID THINGS!".
Okay, I'm off to bed because it's late and I'm suing someone tomorrow, but I hope you are all doing well and I promise updates on the children and my New Year's Resolutions soon. Oh and I just realized I didn't post about Valentine's Day! It happened and it was lovely. It started with our children knocking on our door in the middle of a morning round of Parcheesi which is really just hilariously perfect. The kids had very sweetly decorated the table for us and wanted us to see. And we did, later. Our midday involved a family trip to Home Depot for renovation-related purchases and a children's play at Casa Manana (Schoolhouse Rock- so cute!), and ended with James and I on the couch sharing Chinese food, sweet cards, a bottle of champagne, Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead. And non-interrupted Parcheesi. Pretty perfect.