Thank you all for your kind words on the loss of my aunt. As I mentioned, she wasn't a daily part of my life, so I almost have to keep reminding myself that she's gone- that my uncle and cousins don't have her home, that she isn't calling my grandparents each morning, that she won't be at our next lake house family gathering. It is a cold surprise each time. But I remain thankful for what was really a beautiful weekend honoring her with our family.
The week has pressed on.
Cora remains an irrepressible tutu-clad ball of joy. She is constantly exclaiming over things that are delightful to her, "CWAIRE! I have a purple cup LIKE YOU!" and "MAMA you're HOME! WITH ME!" or "I'm at the POOL and THAT'S MY DADDY OVER THERE!!" and "WANDON, I'm sitting IN YOUR SEAT- WITH YOU!!". On Monday, we dropped the kids off at swim practice (a 5 mile trip for which she had to pack many things, including maracas, obvi), I heard her cheerfully announce from the living room: "Don't worry mom! I just ate that goldfish cracker!"
We hadn't had goldfish in the house in *weeks*. And I honestly keep the house pretty clean, so I cannot imagine from where she unearthed that petrified goldfish or how long it had been there. It gives me shudders, but didn't seem to affect her.
She has also started dancing with her princess dolls for at least an hour every night, in full costume. I don't know what flipped the princess switch in her- Claire never cared about them one way or the other, but Cora's love of princesses is as deep as it is true and we all get a kick out of it. Belle remains her favorite and sometimes I'll hear her sigh from the playroom as she pets Belle's hair, "Belle, you are so be-yufull".
Two nights ago she decided that she needed a dance partner and dug around in her dress up bin before presenting Landon with a rainbow tutu and hot pink eye mask and demanding he dance with her. And despite his initial skepticism, he totally did. Rainbow tutu and all. He is the best big brother.
Cora also got back into her swim lessons last night and she was SO EXCITED to be there. She swam 25 yards all the way across the pool- swimming with her big arms, turning to her back float to breathe, and then flipping back over to keep swimming forward. Her new instructor (or "Coach" as Cora has cheerfully dubbed her; I guess Tara called one of her swim instructors coach last semester and now Cora will hear no name but "Coach" regardless of who is teaching her) said she was a joy to teach and was laughing telling me that she could see Cora smiling even as she kicked all the way down to the bottom of the pool to get a dive stick.
I've read 4 books in the last 8 days and I am very tired (and equally thankful/remorseful that I can download free books to my Kindle so instantly from the library).
(1) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, on the suggestion of my sister. It was fun and different and I've already downloaded the next in the series.
(2) Angel's Storm, book #5 in Nalini Sing's Guild Hunter Series. I seem to be enjoying those far more than they probably deserve, but I inhale them as soon as each next volume is available through the library and stay up all night to finish each one. I mean, they're good and fun and I'm enjoying the later books in the series focusing on other characters very much, but I really can't explain to you why they are like crack to me.
(3) Feversong, the long-awaited final book in Karen Marie Moning's Fever series. I read this until 3 a.m. two nights in a row and liked it far more than I expected. I thought the last book was terrible and if I had to hear Mac equivocate inside her head for 300 more pages without actually doing anything I was going to demand a refund (something I've only ever done for the 3rd book in the Divergent series which remains one of the worst things I've ever read), but it was good. Things moved forward. Plots concluded. And there's room for a Dani spin-off series which would be much appreciated because while I enjoyed Mac and Barrons, I'm quite done with them and I think they're done with us. My obsession with the Fever series is a mystery to me. I have many very legitimate complaints about Moning's plotting, writing style, and tendency to get distracted by subplots that don't go anywhere but I am addicted to those books in a way that defies logic. Each time I new one has come out over the last 5 years I have started reading it at midnight and stopped only at dawn. I don't know. I'm not even sure how heartily I recommend them, and yet, I didn't sleep for 2 days to finish the last installment.
(4) First Star I See Tonight, a new book in Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars series that took me completely by surprise when my friend wrote about it yesterday. Phillips hasn't written a Chicago Stars book for about 9 years, so I assumed the series was over. When I learned otherwise at 10:30 p.m. last night, I obviously downloaded it immediately from the library and then finished it around 3:30.
I have a problem.
On to food, my other favorite thing, and another belated thank you for your amazing recipes and cookbook suggestions on my food post. I've written down every single one and bookmarked anything linkable and can't wait to try them. This week ended up being a giant Skinnytaste Tasting Menu because I ordered the two Skinnytaste cookbooks (the original and fast and slow) for myself after Christmas and took them with me to read in the car on our drive to Houston and planned my menu from there. I love a good post-it flag and enjoyed feeling old fashioned in my recipe planning. But next week I'll start branching out again. Until then, here was our menu:
Monday: Santa Fe Turkey Taco Salads (from the Skinnytaste cookbook; possibly not exactly the right name, but it's and the book is too far away for me to go check), lots of toppings, tortilla chips. (We all liked this; healthy and hearty and eaten on top of a bed of chopped lettuce instead of rice or taco shells, and since I made a bunch of the AMAZING avocado cilantro crema and then mixed it up into the salads, the kids ate every bite. They'll do anything for avocado.)
Tuesday: I had a PTA Board Meeting, so this was a test of some new pre-made ingredients for a healthy, quick dinner: TJ's organic whole wheat spaghetti, TJ's organic tomato basil marinara sauce, and Costco's organic chicken meatballs (in the refrigerated section), plus orange pepper slices and cherry tomatoes on the side. And it was all really good! So good it's possible I'm not making meatballs from scratch all that often anymore... And the whole meal was $12. Not bad for filling and healthy with no effort.
Wednesday: TJ's BBQ brisket slices (another pre-made, you just heat and serve; James had bought it about 2 weeks ago so I needed to use it up), whole wheat rolls and sandwich toppings, and another round of the Kale Radicchio Salad with Farro and Lemon Miso dressing because I am OBSESSED with it. I seriously love this salad, especially now that I add chopped avocado.
Thursday: Turkey, White Bean, and Pumpkin chili. A new and interesting take on chili. Everyone really liked it, though it definitely needed a few toppings and James needed hot sauce as it is very mild. But the pumpkin gave it an unctuous creamy flavor (you couldn't tell it was pumpkin, but you knew there was something wonderful in there) and I liked having a variation of chili that was lighter and made with different spices. (Also, I didn't make it in the crock pot; I browned the turkey and sauteed the onions and garlic in a Dutch Oven, mixed everything in, brought to a boil, and then covered the pot and put it in a 350 degree oven for about 90 mins, came out great.)
Friday: Supposed to be another Skinnytaste meal (Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore, tossed with pasta, roasted cauliflower and carrots on the side), but it's a beautiful day and I want a margarita so badly, so rather than break my credit card diet and spend money to save money at happy hour, I'm going to make our own nachos and frozen margaritas to eat outside while the girls play. Landon is spending the night with a friend (it's a brave new world for us with occasionally missing children; we've always been a pack and it's super weird but also not terrible), so that means I can douse everything in cheese without anyone complaining about it.
Saturday: DATE NIGHT, location to be determined. I wanted frozen margaritas (a craving that should be cured this evening), James wants to try Cork & Pig on 7th, and we both want Stir Crazy Baked Goods for dessert (they decorated uterus/ovary sugar cookies in honor of the Women's March on Fort Worth tomorrow; just when I thought I couldn't love them move). It may be a progressive dinner. My brother gave us a gift card for Christmas and this night is my one allowed exception to my month-long credit card diet. The kids are having their choice of TJ's finest organic spaghettios, mac and cheese, or mini pizzas. With veggies, because our nanny is a nutrition major and I like to not disappoint her.
Sunday: Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa (from a facebook recipe video that caught my eye), Skinnytaste roasted corn salsa side (cookbook), probably also tossed with brown rice because James needs carbs.
And I made these Protein Egg and Quinoa Jar salads for lunch for two days. I am killing it on this no eating out/spending money thing. And it feels so good and so emotionally cleansing. Not that I won't absolutely go back to enjoying my lunches out more than once a week and perusing the sale sections of my favorite internet stores, but much like how after a big meal, other food doesn't even look good. Well after the last 2 months of vacations and Christmas and a bunch of other random expenses that just happened to fall in December, shopping doesn't even look good. It's like a financial Whole 30. (Because goodness knows I'm never doing the food one; my understanding is nachos are not approved and that doesn't work for me.)
And finally, workouts. I'm doing them. Still loving yoga, still getting my butt kicked at OTF (are the workouts harder lately? I've been going for nearly a year and I have been DYING at the last few):
Tuesday: eating pizza, reading until my eyes bleed
Wednesday: CorePower C2 Yoga
Friday: C2 Yoga
Saturday: Barre (teaching)
Sunday: Cyclebar spin class
I'm off to buy ingredients for nachos and margaritas and ignore reality and the news for a little while longer. A wonderful weekend (and happy marching, to those who are!) to you all!
Spring break days 5-7
12 hours ago