Wednesday, February 22, 2017

To PapaGigi's House We Go (and Food, of course)

Thank you for all the fun styling comments on the last post! After sleeping on it and letting the excitement of opening a box full of clothes died down, and I tried everything on in my un-lockable office for my coworker friend, I decided to send it all back. The dress ended up being my favorite piece, but since it's a shirt dress, the hemline goes up on the sides and it was SO short. I definitely couldn't wear it to work and I didn't know how often I'd wear a cute white dress on the weekends. The decision was easier thanks to the $78 price point- not unreasonable by any means, it was a well-made, fully lined dress, but the one I was wearing was also lined at $6 at Last Chance Dillard's, so, sadly, no. But after talking to Stitch Fix customer service I'm trying one more time. I really do want some cute summer separates and my two favorite summer tops in my whole closet were from them last year. Also, it's fun to try on clothes and have people judge them. This is why I always want friends to go shopping with me- now we get to do it virtually instead! The only downside is we can't all drink margaritas together afterward.

But moving on! By going backwards! This past Saturday we headed to my parents' new lake house for an early birthday celebration for me! By 8 a.m. we had two suitcases packed, three kids' kindles charged, and all the children fed when suddenly, Cora's eyes got huge and she threw up all the milk she'd just drunk, all over the floor. Having never thrown up before, she was shocked at what her body had just down and immediately cried out, "I tooted!"

"No, you threw up!" Landon corrected. "I tooted UP?!" Cora replied, delighted by this new phrase. Then she realized she'd gotten a bit of toot-up on her new "mingo dress," a flamingo dress of Claire's (one Claire wore when she was 5 and that fits Cora beautifully at barely 3; Cora is so tall you guys) that she was SO EXCITED to wear to Papa and Gigi's house and she started to cry. Surprising liquids shooting out of your mouth with force? Totally rolls with it. Little bit of liquid on her new dress? Devastation.

So we put on another old Claire dress (Cora may never wear her tutus again, which breaks my heart a bit) and off we went, armed with trash bags, antibacterial gel, a full roll of paper towels, and our last package of wipes leftover from all those Honest Company diaper orders. Lake Houston Or Bust was our motto and since 4/5 of our little family wasn't throwing up, we decided to to stick to our plan. Also we were going to celebrate my birthday and I REALLY WANTED the dark chocolate Hostess cupcakes my mom ordered from a local bakery and the fancy brunch we were eating on Sunday and what I was sure was going to be a late night bargain shopping trip with my mom. I was willing to clean up puke in the car for these things to happen. Let the festivities begin!

And they did! And Cora never even threw up again! It was July in February! Everyone was winning.

Especially me because I got to wear my new $3 dress and drink margaritas and then eat two dark chocolate ganache topped white buttercream filled gourmet Hostess cupcakes. I had some fajitas in between.

My youngest cousin's birthday is 3 days before mine. He's turning 18. I'm turning 34. Way to make me feel old coz. Though he did point out in our texts today that we're the oldest and youngest of the Nordin grandchildren- the bookends- starting and ending with the best.

His mother is my Aunty Mary, so this will be his first birthday without her. As I was filled with a rosy glow all day Friday knowing I was going home to celebrate my birthday, looking forward to my favorite foods and sneaking in some of our beloved mother-daughter shutting-Ross-down bargain shopping, it made me so sad to think of his birthday without his mom. He's too young to be robbed of so many.

I'm glad they were able to be there.

We went on a boat ride, and my parents new/old pontoon boat that I fondly dubbed Bob. Bob is a sturdy vessel, perfect for navigating the occasional 1-foot deep waters of Lake Houston. We got stuck on sand bars twice when we were there in January for the funeral and the kids were SO disappointed Houston had gotten just enough rain in the past month to keep us from getting stuck again this time.

Claire kept asking if pretty please we could go back and try to get stuck again. Upon our boringly safe return, there was much swimming. But before there was swimming there was a sobbing Cora who was appalled that her mother would pack her a two-piece swim suit that "doesn't fit! It doesn't fit!" as she yanked the (very long and modest) tankini top down to try to make it touch the bathing suit bottoms. She FINALLY got over it, though I'm sure I have not been forgiven, and she decided to go for a swim in the hot tub with the rest of her crew.

After a lot of eating and my total domination at corn hole (a bean bag toss game I'm usually not awesome at, but I scored more points than James, my dad, or my mom on Saturday and it was a highlight of my life), and just after the sun set and my dad pulled out the Jiffy Pop for the kids to pop over the fire, I turned to my probably tired mom and asked, "want to go shopping?"

And oh did we ever. TJ Maxx has decided you can try on as many items as you want at a time, so I tried on 36. My mom made me try on a ridiculous white crocheted short + tank combo that did not make the final cut, but I did spent all my birthday money on some beautiful and long-desired tunic tops that actually look good on me, some super cute workout tops, and a fabulous maxi dress. My mom found many treasures as well. We laughed at many an inside joke and thoroughly enjoyed shutting TJ Maxx down.

Sunday morning dawned cool and wet, so the kids got their energy out in my parents' sun room/exercise room downstairs. Landon did 4 miles on the elliptical and now desperately wants one for our own house. Claire perfected her pushups and Cora worked to beat Landon's distance. I drank mimosas with my dad's fresh squeezed orange juice (with oranges from their old lake house orange tree) in the kitchen, exercising by proxy.

The new house looks absolutely beautiful. My mom has everything decorated so well (of course) and its full of long-loved family treasures and new fun pieces to jazz it up and fit the new space. I'm obsessed with this new and utterly impractical umbrella stand.

The kids adore the "bunk room" with all my siblings and my best childhood toys, books, and movies, and the real pièce de résistance- a triplex bunk bed! There has much debate over which berth is best, but the short answer is- all of them.

In one of the upstairs guest rooms, my mom made frames of all our school pictures. "Mommy! You look like a boy!" Claire exclaimed upon seeing them, bringing all my childhood insecurities rushing to the forefront. Kids and old school portraits- so good for your self esteem.

We said goodbye to their beautiful new house and headed out to brunch. Ever since we planned this birthday trip back in December, before we knew we'd be headed to Houston a few weeks earlier for my aunt's funeral, I'd been craving a fancy brunch. And a fancy brunch I had! Bananas Foster French Toast and California Eggs Benedict- it was delicious.

Full and happy, we headed back home with sleepy children and a need to grocery shop.

Sunday: TJ's pesto tortellini with tomato cream sauce, green and veggie salad, garlic bread
Monday: Chicken Rollatini with Prosciutto and Cheese, Orzo with Parmesan and Peas, Kale Caesar Salad (from Costco). (SO GOOD. James declared it one of the best meals ever and the kids inhaled it all.).
Tuesday: Slow Cooker BBQ Brisket, Costco pretzel rolls, Mac and Cheese, other half of the Kale Caesar Salad
Wednesday: Tomato Basil Soup, Pesto Grilled Cheese (loooooove those; love them so much)

Cora does too

Thursday: BBQ brisket enchiladas (just toss any leftover pulled meat with bbq sauce and shredded cheese, roll the filling up in tortillas, top with a bit of sour cream and more shredded cheese, and bake uncovered at 350 for 20 mins; this is my favorite way to use leftover pulled pork, chicken, etc.), Mexican rice, refried black beans
Friday: Out with friends for my birthday; kids are totally going to have Trader Joe's finest organic spaghettios and whatever healthy things Tara adds to it.


  1. Thanks for posting your recipes! I've gotten stuck in one too many Pinterest Fails and your family seems to eat a lot like mine, so it's always nice to have some 'vetting' before I give something a try.

  2. I also really needed these recipes - in a total rut and i have leftover fresh mozzarella and pesto - I know what we are having for dinner tonight!

  3. Thirding the recipe hit. We are in the thick of Mardi Gras right now and eating crackers and fried chicken and pizza all day long for a week, and as much as I love this season I am also advance-craving next week's return to health! I shall use some of these for sure!

  4. hysterical - she tooted:) Glad Cora didn't have a repeat! Looked like a lovely weekend - hope you have a great birthday.

  5. The 'I tooted' thing reminds me of my son in the Kona airport who said to me 'mommy, I have the hiccups', then proceeded to projectile vomit all over. Like the responsible parent I am, I jumped out of the way to avoid it. And then got on the plane with a kid in a hastily-purchased giant t-shirt from the airport gift shop. So I think you did the right thing continuing on!

  6. I Love the new look. The blog looks Awesome! of course, a little less than Cora in her new to her dress.

  7. Oh Claire! Your pics from school are lovely and Claire looks exactly like u in the third from left.

  8. Hi! I'm a newer reader to your blog and am so enjoying it- thank you! I especially like the week's menu you share (along with the links to recipes). I'm wondering if you ever would (or have-sorry if I've missed it) tell us your system for how you keep track of the recipes your family likes and those you want to try. I've struggled with this since there are so many sources for recipes I'm trying to not forget-- blogs, Pinterest, websites, etc.

    1. Hi Susan! I wish I had a system! Right now writing them out on the blog and tagging them "recipes" is one of my better ones- I go back through my archives all the time to try to find recipes we liked. I save all the recipes I find online in folders, but I'm terrible about un-saving the ones that don't work out so I'll stare at my soups folder with 3 recipes for chicken chili and wonder which one was the one we liked. Sigh.

      If you find a system, I'd love to hear it!