Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Over the Hump and A Little Bit Under It

Hello and Happy Wednesday! I just introduced my children to the term "hump day," and even though things like "time" and "days" are nebulous concepts these days, they were all very taken with the phrase. And Wednesday does feel like getting over a hump. It's just one more day to Friday Pizza-and-Top-Chef Day, then Saturday Teach-Yoga-Day, then Sunday Teach-Barre-Day. And then it's back to the shapeless soup of work and school days for a while, but there will be another hump day and the pizza will rise again.

Quite literally, actually! I made that Chicago-style pizza I linked to the in the last post and readers, it was a crowning achievement of my life so far.

It took two rises, a full stick of butter, approximately 4 hours in and out of the kitchen, the lamination of pizza dough- a term I only know from my obsession with the Great British Baking Show, and the consumption of at least half a bottle of wine but it was done and it was perfect and I have never been more proud.

It was so, so good. Everything a Chicago-style pizza should be. Flaky and light, yet substantive. Cheesy, but not too much. Saucy, to better dip the extra crust. I ate half of one 9" pie and then spent the rest of the night wishing there were leftovers I could pick at until I was filled to the brim with pizza and regret. I craved it all day Saturday. I'm making it again Friday and this time I'm not sharing with the kids. You'll find me on the couch on Friday night, holding a half-filled pizza/cake pan to my chest and snarling at anyone who looks at it.

In other projects, we decided this would be a great time to repaint the interior of our house. Prior to Fort Worth, we had never lived anywhere longer than 3.5 years, so we had never really needed to touch up anything around the house. But now that we've been here eight (eight!!) years, I'm realizing that just because we painted something after we moved in, doesn't mean it's new anymore. Roots, we now have them. Along with some chipped paint.

And since I am someone who likes a good project, and James is someone who likes doing meticulous things, AND because we have significantly more time than money for the foreseeable future, we decided to paint! I sent James out with a mask and a list and imagined evenings filled with the calm and soothing brushing of walls, followed by mornings spent basking in the beauty of fresh paint and clean lines.

Turns out, I fucking hate painting. I hate it a lot and I now want to be soothed only by sitting on the couch and reading the next Throne of Glass book (I'm on the last one; sob).

But here is our hallway! Part of the original bungalow built in 1949, it was 5 shades of light cream that we never noticed because we're not in this hallway much (it connects the kids room, hall bath, and TV room add-on, all of which you can get to other ways) and most of the bulbs had been burned out. Now it is one shade of crisp bright white (BM Chantilly Lace)- including the ceiling which an interesting mix of 3 shades of light cream. We still need to do the trim, but it already looks so nice. We fixed the lights and I really feel like we've welcomed this hallway into our home now. Now I just need to find something fun and super colorful to put on the walls.

Next up was the hall/girls bath. The one we budet-renovated right after we moved here that we always planned to revisit one day. For now that just involved painting it the same light blue as the living room, kitchen, and foyer (the color I picked out in 2 minutes the first month we moved here and continue to absolutely adore), repainting all the trim, and touching up the cabinets. So far we've done the walls. And by "we" I mean James. They look great!

Our little local hardware store didn't have the paint we needed for our baseboards, so James is picking that up tomorrow. That's going to be a terrible project but is by far the most needed update. We had 3 toddlers in this house and the baseboards are super scuffed up. I'll be sure to offer him a lot of moral support from the couch while I guard my leftover pizza. I've also picked out new paint colors for our bedroom and look forward to finally finishing that project we've slowly been working on since we moved in. (First round when we moved in; 2019 decor update here; the last chapter (for now) will be a (gorgeous! teal!) accent wall in the back, a bright white ceiling, and dove white walls, plus new linens and some final decorating touches that are going to be GREAT as soon as the swim school reopens and I can buy them.)

All joking and paint-hating aside, I do love the evolution of our home. The roots we've planted here and the personal stamp we've put on the house. It was built 71 years ago, has had 7 previous owners, and everyone has added to it (many quite literally; originally a 1200 square foot little bungalow, it's now nearly 3,000 square feet). I've loved seeing my babies, then toddlers, and now big kids playing under the same giant oak tree out front, a tree that has been growing there since before the house was built around it. I love the settled feeling I get walking in the door. I love knowing it's ours, that it reflects us, that it is so personal to our preferences and our life. My mom always made our home beautiful growing up - even on a budget and in tight spaces, like our teeny little house in LA, I always thought our home was so beautiful and put-together. Our rooms were always decorated, everything was always organized- I was always very proud of it. It remains true in their home(s) today and it's one of those things that stuck with me. Everyone has different priorities, but a beautiful home is one of mine. And if I have to paint some baseboards, I will, even if my talents are CLEARLY better suited to online window shopping for the perfect beautiful master bedroom decor while James does the painting.

On a less positive note, applying for CARES Act self-employed unemployment benefits for James has been something of a nightmare and, as things look less hopeful for him to even reopen this summer, winning the battle to get them has grown increasingly important and simultaneously increasingly depressing. The frustration of calling 100+ times a day without getting through and repeatedly having to use the word "unemployment" in reference to something you built that was really successful and a source of such pride is hard. And we can pay our mortgage and feed our children! And then I get so overwhelmed thinking of those who can't and, well, that has been a hard aspect to this week.

New normal; I still smiled for the selfie

But things are good, really. The kids remain incredibly resilient and very content to play with one another.

Scooter gang

Maggie is fabulous and is working hard to keep up the sartorial standards of the family.

(When I took that picture it was mid-afternoon and I was still in my pajamas.)

We couldn't find her for a while on Sunday afternoon when we realized the garage door was open, so of course she was in her chariot, waiting patiently until someone found her and took her for a walk.

So of course we did.

I taught my yoga and barre classes, something I continue to truly love.

Maggie helps me practice. Many calories were burned.

Which was good because I continue to exercise not a lot outside of my teaching. I have the best of intentions, but though I have the time, the ability, and the knowledge- I am literally certified to teach classes, I just don't. Something has to give and apparently this is my thing that is giving. Or so my excuses go. I know I always feel better when I move, and god knows I'm terrified to step on the scale at this opint, but ugh. I work all day in my bedroom, help with the kids and make dinner and anything more just feels hard. I did manage a Zoom Sculpt class Tuesday night in the girls' room where no one knew I was hiding and never found me.

Fancy pink in-home studio

The kids continue to mostly live in forts, which cracks me up. Because when you're trapped in your home, what sounds better than hanging out in an even tinier home?

I love that they've taken the time to add some art and family photos to this one. Like my mom passed on to me, it's always nice to feather your nest.

And so that's where we've been and where we're at: perfect pizza, home improvement projects I will enjoy the results of if not the efforts, some stresses and sadness, not enough exercise, definitely too many cheez-its, and three kids and a bulldog who bring so much joy and who I hope look back on this time as something bright. And if you have any tips of painting baseboards and trim, let me know. James has started the sanding and I'm over here pretending it wouldn't go faster with the two of us.

Love and light to you all, I hope you are safe and well.

This week's food:

Sunday: Flank steak (coated with the TJ's coffee rub, then broiled for a few minutes each side in the oven, and sliced thin), Roasted Potato Wedges, Roasted Cauliflower, Side Salad (mixed greens, sliced beats, sliced apple, goat cheese, candied pecans, quick homemade balsamic dressing).

Monday: Greek Pasta Salad (Ina's Greek Salad, plus a pound of cold cooked whole wheat rotini pasta, with 2x the dressing), Gyro meat, Tzatziki, and Naan on the side (the latter 3 all from Trader Joe's).

Tuesday: Minestrone Soup
(I do the stove top version; farro instead of bulgur; double the beans), Crusty French Bread on the side. We were supposed to have this last week but it got bumped.

Wednesday: Rainbow Thai Farro Salad, Grilled Chicken, Naan. A new recipe that was tasty and felt bright and fresh.

Thursday: Vegetarian Chili Mac, sliced raw veg on the side. An old favorite, it's easy and filling and cheap.

Friday: Chicago-Style Pizza, again, because I literally can't stop thinking about it. This time I might not share.

Saturday: OUT. I cannot tell you how much I look forward to this Saturday tradition. We had cut down eating out to about 1x/month, so this weekly thing feels incredibly indulgent. I like cooking and truly don't mind it day-to-day, but Saturday night takeout has become a real highlight of the week for all of us.


  1. ahh I wish we had TJ's up here! The paint looks great, and Maggie does too, of course!! Hope the rest of the week is smooth sailing :)

  2. So I made the carrot cake and it is AMAZING! I did modify a bit... I cannot stand the thought of a cup of oil in anything so I did a cup of apple sauce and 1/4 cup of oil:-). Also I added walnuts to the batter and toasted coconut on top of the icing. OMG so delicious. Thank you for posting even though the last thing I need to eat right now is that cake LOL!

  3. I'm also f'ing HATE painting. And I'm not good at it. So we hire it out which I know is a luxury/expense many can't afford, especially these days. :( We moved into our (1925) house in November and were planning to have it painted in the spring when we could open the windows to ventilate the house. Well that is obviously not happening with the social distancing/etc. But there is no way we can take it on so I'll just continue to look at the dinged up walls with tons of paint samples that I painted all over when choosing a paint color this winter... Oh well. No one sees all these paint swatches either so I guess it's bothers me less that things look so bad!!

  4. Don't stress about not working out. Most likely you'll get your mojo back eventually without force on your part. Or you won't and that's fine too. Too many people are trying to live up to pre-pandemic expectations for themselves! That said, one thing you could try (though again, I can't stress enough that not working out a bunch is FINE), is just starting slow and small. Try doing a 10 minute workout video once or twice a week, for example. 10 minutes is a really low commitment. That's how I eased back in after weeks of doing nothing. The thought of going from no workouts to 45-60 minute workouts seemed insurmountable, but a 10 minute workout I could do. Sometimes after 10 minutes I could do another 10 minutes, sometimes not. But at least I did something and was building my routine back up again.

  5. The pizza! I know the joys of Chicago-style pizza, and yours looks authentic! The Great British Baking Show would be proud. I agree with anonymous about shorter workouts. It's fun to find ways to fit in a 20-minute flow here and there. (I still enjoy the Zoom hours, too.) I'm with you on the abhorrence to painting, which makes me admire those who have the patience and or skill. Instead, I'll join you in the kitchen for a daunting baking project over painting any day!

  6. If you really aren’t feeling it exercise wise, set your bar lower. For instance, go for a walk. Do 10 pushups. Something easy. Easy is better than nothing and your body will thank you.

  7. Hey, it's Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza Day! Enjoy! That really looks amazing. :)

  8. I was inspired by you to make this pizza for dinner last night, and it truly was amazing. It's just two of us with a one year old, so making the whole recipe means we have a second pan as leftovers for today. Thank you! (My one substitution was using corn muffin mix instead of the cornmeal since that's all we had; I'm sure cornmeal would have been better but this worked and meant we had delicious pizza right away, in case anyone else is in the same boat!)

  9. I am also soooo excited about takeout night tonight. Also I put your minestrone on our menu for sunday/monday! I have some bulgur wheat I need to use up, so will do that instead of your farro substitution. I'm excited though, it sounds cozy and i loooove pesto.

  10. I made the Chicago Deep Dish pizza today. OMG it was worth every minute of prep/waiting time!