Sunday, February 5, 2017

Rodeo and Recipes and the other 8 days

I have an Orangetheory workout booked in like 7 hours (even closer now), but if I don't finish this post now I feel like I'm never going to post again. It's been 9 days of intermittent internet avoidance, but I'm here and I'm back! Things are good.

mostly good

Busy. Busy going to rodeos and reading three romance novels in four days to take a break from reading the news through squinted eyes and silent screaming. Busy cheering on lawyers throughout the country as they become First Responders in an administration that either hasn't read the Constitution or doesn't care about it. (I still can't decide which one I prefer.) Researching sparkling dresses to wear to a black-tie event in April (do we like this one? or this one? I feel like RTR is low on options right now.)

style inspiration

Busy updating my resume for comfort, taking off work and drinking a champagne lunch with a friend on a Wednesday in a combination of self-care and fuck it, booking a trip to Disney World for the same reason, and watching a video of Cora jumping rope a million times because it has so much joy and so little fascism. Busy reading about lawyer friends doing amazing things. Panic-breathing through another HVAC replacement quote ($16K this time!). Attending a post card party in downtown Fort Worth as part of the 10 Actions in 100 Days campaign for the Women's March and finding it PACKED, all 600 postcards used up in the first half of the event, and me utterly flummoxed how to answer finish the sentence "I am _______ from _______. I am concerned about..." At least the first two questions were easy.

James was a guest lecturer for a marketing class at TCU to tell them about his experience starting up Fike Swim. He made a power point and wore real pants and everything. He loved every minute (maybe minus the pants part) and will come back as a judge to judge the student's business ideas and plans in a Shark-Tank-like final exam at the end of the semester. I'm so proud of him!

I cleaned out my closet, letting go of a few items I've let hang around for far too long because I either used to love them and can't understand why I no longer do or I bought them and never wore them at all. Despite major temptation everywhere my credit cared diet has been a huge success. This billing cycle ends on Friday and I have bought NOTHING this month except groceries, a once a week work lunch, new uniform pants for Landon because he grew like 4 inches over Christmas break and was suddenly wearing capris, and two giant hot water heaters. The crazy part is even with the hot water heaters, our bill is well under budget. Like half of the budget. It feels amazing. Is this what successful food dieting feels like? I literally feel thinner after checking my card balance just now even though I know I ate half a bowl of cookie dough before dinner. If the next month didn't contain Valentine's Day and my birthday I'd say we should do it again immediately. But cookies and Lululemon will need to be purchased and March is a fine time for financial dieting.

Mama I jumping ROPE!

Except I just booked us a vacation for March earlier this week. On the same night I boldly declared to James we would do nothing for Spring Break because we've been traveling too much and we're committed to making Disney a reality later in the year, I also accidentally mapped us out a road trip to Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks, with a stop at Monahans Sandhills State Park, and two nights in a cozy non-mudery motel. It would be easier if we camped, but I do not sleep on the ground, in tents, and/or with my children. So motel it is! I'm actually super excited. The National Park Rangers are leading the resistance and I LOVE me some National Parks and their Rangers. Plus these two are in the southern part of New Mexico/Texas border and not a convenient stop for the Grand Canyon and Arizona National Park road trips I have planned for later. Plus PLUS I really really like family vacations and road trips. All in the trip should cost less than $500 and 4/5 of my family are out of school/work for an entire week. We have to do something or we'll spend $500 on date nights anyway. To the caverns we go!

unrelated, but still LOVING this book

We did spent $23 at Home Depot today to give Landon a Lego shelf and buy James a shockingly inexpensive part to fix his leaf blower. That never happens. We felt so handy and practical we drank a bottle of champagne with dinner to celebrate. We're not football people, so it didn't occur to either of us to turn on the Super Bowl, but we did watch 3 more episodes of Catastrophe after the kids went to bed and that show is HILARIOUS. We also just finished Sneaky Pete (loved it), so we need more. We may be cutting cable since we found out our DVR cable box has been broken for a month and we never noticed because we never turned it on, so Netflix, Amazon, and HBO options preferred.

We also got everyone's Valentine's cards for school. The pre-made kind in boxes from a store because Valentine's Day is not really my thing (except the part where we drink a lot of champagne after the kids go to bed on a Tuesday) and I'm not crafty anyway. But the kids love them and I'm glad they have an excuse to bring me more candy home from school. To those reading with kids in their classes, I prefer skittles, Mike and Ike's, and Sour Patch Kids.

Cora selected Moana for her cards and then spent a significant portion of the weekend dancing to her "Cora" playlist on Spotify (it has 3 songs: "Where I'll Go" and "I am Moana" from Moana and "Try Everything" from Zootopia; that is all, forever and ever repeated, amen) while holding her unopened box of Valentine's cards and it was the best. I started crying while watching her on hour 3 or so. Toddlers are my favorite and this one doesn't even throw tantrums. I will never stop wishing I could have more of her.

As always, I did a lot of cooking. There were several tests to our (my) commitment to not eat out for a month but we PERSEVERED. Sometimes dinner was sad, usually it was pretty delicious. I"m still loving my recipe books and trying new things and honestly not missing the eating out so much. (The really good frozen margaritas? Those I miss.) As a bonus, you get two weeks of menus! Interspersed with rodeo pictures because I didn't blog for 8 days and there's a back log!

starting with the highlight- a rare varietal of French fry!

Mon: Meatloaf, roasted carrots and cauliflower, mashed potatoes (from a Trader Joe's box; I should be ashamed, but seriously, their instant potatoes are crazy good). I liked our meatloaf recipe and the kids weirdly LOVED it, but I feel like I'm still looking for The One. Please share yours!

on the slow, safe, smooth Ferris wheel
Claire had just exclaimed in panic, "my hands are slipping!"

Tues: Chicken and pineapple soyaki broil, veggie fried rice, TJ's veggie spring rolls. (Dice up chicken breast, fresh pineapple, and red onion, toss in a bowl with TJ's Soyaki sauce, spread in a foil-lined pan and broil on high for about 6 minutes. For the fried rice, I sauteed some diced onion, broccoli, snap pea, peas, and carrots, added two bags of steamed brown rice (Trader Joe's again!), and some soyaki. Super yummy, easy meal. Kids loved it because the pineapple tastes like dessert. Except Cora, who continues to hate all fruit.)

my hearts

Wed: Leftover spaghetti sauce from Sunday's non-posted meal, tossed with whole wheat penne, shredded mozzarella, sliced black olives (my kids LOVE black olives), and a bit of parmesan, spread into a 9x13 dish and baked at 350 for 20 mins. I made it ahead on Sunday night so Tara could pop it in the oven while I was at my postcard party.

Claire liked the dinner far more than the giant slide

Thurs: Zesty Burrito Bowl - I'm not linking to it because it was terrible. Total test of my commitment to not eating out, I chopped and cooked and waited and it turned out so spicy even James declared it inedible. So we had breakfast tacos with scrambled eggs, black beans, and diced tomato. I mostly had a rocks margarita that I made when the rice I eventually had to throw out took forever to cook.

when your dinner doesn't turn out
also when you're too small for the fun house your siblings are in

Fri: Meatball sub (Costco organic chicken meatballs, simmered in Costco organic tomato basil sauce (so good!), spread into a big loaf of bread split, buttered and sprinkled with garlic salt that has already been baked for about 10 mins at 350; top with thin slices of provolone and broil 3-5 mins. So delicious and comforting!), roasted sweet and Russet potato wedges, Kale and Radicchio salad with farro and lemon miso dressing.

Sat: *serious test of my commitment to no eating out for a month* I had an Annie's List happy hour event and got home too late to defrost the salmon we were supposed to have, and we hadn't gone grocery shopping because the day had been crazy, so the kids had pasta and jarred sauce with fruit on the side, James and I made vegetable fried rice with TJ's brown rice, scrambled egg, a dash of soyaki, and chopped pieces of every veggie we had left in the fridge. You cannot imagine how badly I wanted to order takeout Thai, but we stayed the course.

not eating takeout

Sun: Grilled salmon (from this recipe because the rub is amazing, minus the salsa this time), mashed potatoes, roasted carrots and cauliflower, wheat rolls

Mon: Naked Persian burgers with salad (from the Skinnytaste cookbook; here's a picture and list of ingredients that isn't particularly helpful), roasted potatoes.

never forgiving the not eating of takeout

Tues: Black bean burrito bowls (also from the Skinnytaste cookbook; I'm not really helping you guys out much by posting our menu this time am I?)

Wed: Fettucine with chicken and broccoli (also from the Skinnytaste cookbook; here's a non-helpful post of someone else making it)

regaining Cora's trust

Thurs: Tacos, toppings, refried beans (I have an event and James likes tacos 100% more than I do, plus they're quick for him to make for the kids when he gets home from swimming)

Fri: Bolognese sauce (I'm working from home, so I can actually let it cook the full 4 hours this time), whole wheat penne, probably with a loaf of garlic bread and no vegetables because it's Friday and we love carbs.

Lag Liv family, Rodeo style
(or as close as we can get)

Takeaway from this menu- everyone should buy the Skinnytaste cook book because unlike many a blog-turned-book, she apparently has a lot of new content in there!

May you all have an excellent week full of delicious things, toddlers dancing, and trashy romance novels. Or whatever is your happy equivalent.


  1. I have the world's easiest meatloaf recipe, but it is truly a love it or hate it kind of thing. Fair warning, I hate, detest, utterly LOATHE meatloaf, and I like this so possibly the people who hate it are meatloaf lovers and this is just meatloaf-ish.

    This recipe makes 2 loaves. It freezes well, so I consider this a win.
    2 lbs ground beef (or 1 lb ground beef, 1 lb ground turkey if you have beef that's fattier than 90/10)
    1 lb hot sausage (any kind works, I usually use Jimmy Dean)
    8 oz jar of tomato sauce
    1 egg
    ~ 1 cup of plain bread crumbs
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper

    Sauce for 1 loaf (this does not freeze well, so if you cook both loaves at the same time, double it)
    1 cup ketchup
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    splash of worcestershire

    I mix everything together in my stand mixer. Super easy and your hands stay clean! You may not need a full cup of breadcrumbs if you use the 50/50 beef/turkey mixture. Beef is wetter than turkey?

    Divide evenly into two 9x5 loaf pans. Cover with sauce. Cook at 350 for 1 hour (maybe a little longer).

    Bon appetit!

    What books did you read?

    1. So intriguing! What if you can't do spicy? 1 lb. of hot sauce (do you mean a bottle? cup?) sounds like a lot!

    2. Oh and I read three old Iris Johansen books. A friend emailed me to tell me she'd just re-read a bunch and enjoyed them so, since I never read her, I checked to see what our digital lending library had and sure enough, next thing you know I'm reading a totally cheesy and wonderful romance novel at midnight on Thursday. I read Dark Rider, The Treasure, and Lion's Bride. Now I need something new again!

    3. Oops, meant 1 lb of hot sausage not sauce! However, if spicy is really not your thing, my husband likes to substitute onion sausage. I don't like onion, so this doesn't work well for me.

      Iris Johansen is a new name for me, so I need to check it out!

      Also, I forgot to vote for the dress! I vote sparkly dress. Or cut out dress with killer shoes and statement earrings.

  2. I never comment but I have a recipe for you. This is so good. You could add some grilled chicken for JP but I found it plenty filling. You can even make the quinoa the night before


    1. That looks SO GOOD. I'm going to make it this weekend- thanks!!

    2. It is ridiculously good. And I am the farthest thing from a vegetarian but I made it again for my lunch the day after having it for dinner! :)

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks for the vote! I keep turning back to that one - so fun and different. And the event is for a former employer so I don't have to be employee-appropriate or worry about a bride's style or particular dress code- it's just all out super fancy and fun!

  4. I have three kids, ages 7, 4.5, and 18 months, and you are really inspiring me to stop thinking that we'll hold off on the National Parks trips for another couple of years and just go for it! Thank you for sharing parts of your life here.

    1. Hi Susannah! National Park trips are the BEST and I think you can start them at any time. You can always go back to try it again with older kids and do different things, but our kids have had so much fun hiking and exploring the ones we've been to. State parks are great too (and usually even cheaper, and with more kid-friendly stuff like playgrounds and activities). Happy exploring!

  5. I love WDW! The BEST guide to Walt Disney World is The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa. A lot of people get turned off by Disney World due to large crowds and long lines, but these guys have Disney down to a science. Even during school holidays, I've never had to worry about long wait times because of their advice. See if your library has the 2017 edition. The 2018 edition should come out late summer and would be worth buying.

  6. I vote the first dress (the sparkly one).

    Anon - jlv

  7. I like the first (sparkly) dress although with your figure you could carry the second one with the cutouts just fine.

  8. The first one!

    So I have a planning question for you. We are driving out to TX next spring to visit my dad in Flower Mound. We will be in Texas the whole week from South Carolina. We've done the drive a few times before. Next year, we will have an 8 year old, a 6 year old and 3.5 year old twins. We will spend a few days in the Dallas area, and other than that, the week is open. Probably 4 days. So! Where do we go? We are willing to drive! Should we go to that place you guys went last year with the rocks and the cool house? Carlsbad Caverns? The Rio Grande? Head for Colorado? Stay and just do the Austin/San Antonio loop? Remember, we have to come BACK to South Carolina (about a 15 hour drive) when we finish. Budget isn't a huge issue, because traveling anywhere with 6 people is expensive and we are pros at bringing food and eating at home. Any suggestions for where our travels should take us?!

    1. Oh fun! I have thoughts and I will add them tonight, but I would suggest Austin/San Antonio. It's beautiful and fun and only a 3-4 hour drive from Dallas, which won't add on SO much for your drive back. (That said every other suggestion you made is also awesome, so it might depend on your appetite for mileage.) But Austin in Spring is lovely and you have the hills and rivers and lakes and wonderful hiking, while also getting the fun downtown and restaurants and museums and more. San Antonio is also great- book a night on the River Walk and enjoy the shopping and food and music. But I'll think on it and add more- I just didn't want you to think I didn't see the comment/question!

  9. As long as you are in that part of NM you might try to swing a trip to White Sands too. I don't know if you have ever been before but it is so fun to buy sleds/disks and slide down the dunes. The landscape is incredible and March is the perfect time to go because then it gets too hot.

  10. Not to be completely rude and ignore your whole post, but I just finished Feversong!!! *sigh* Love, love, loved it. Sure, some things were tied up a bit too nicely, but I don't care. The book made me cry and I was honestly sad to finish it. I hope we get a glimpse back into this world again, even if it's only through secondary characters because let's face it, Dani and Ryodan need their own damn book!

  11. Thank you for information about the huddles! I wasn't aware of that. For WDW, I recommend>they recommend what park to visit on what day and reviews of everything. The key is getting there before opening to go on as many rides as possible. Also, they push leaving around lunch time, which we use to nap (the adults, my kids don't believe in naps anymore). Liz