Sunday, April 18, 2021

Updates and Exercise!

It's Sunday and I've worked for pretty much all of it, but am taking this moment to sit with the kids to watch the latest episode of the new Mighty Ducks TV show that we are enjoying IMMENSELY. Highly recommend.
Jumping back in time to my last update, we had a great Easter with my parents!
The kids found their eggs and baskets and Maggie found a new fireplace to attempt to enter.
We cooked and played yard games and took the trio of pups on walks to the park with the kids.
In addition to the photo of me and my mom, James caught a beautiful candid photo of me and my baby. 😂
And the kids decided moments before the Easter egg hunt was the perfect time to learn how to play chess on my grandparents' giant chess set. Landon was pretty into it, whereas I just felt motivated to rewatch The Queen's Gambit.
Speaking of Landon, he is playing football!
I'm finally learning a bit about this game I've never watched before and I flinch everytime he gets hit and bounces off the grass.
The girls got to come to his game last week and spent most of it playing underneath the bleachers, paying close attention on the inside.
Cora packs a bag anytime we go anywhere and you never know what she'll pull out of it on arrival. At his game, she unearthed a tiny notepad with a tiny pencil and drew a portrait of her still somewhat tiny brother.
Claire is on the bench, litrally and figuratively, due to a sprained angle she got at recess one day after one of her best friends did the same thing. She has one more week in the boot and is thoroughly over the novelty.
Speaking of novelties, I updated my shoe collection with a few new items that I realized later perfectly reflect my current place in life. These rainbow trail shoes make my heart flutter, when 10 years ago, it was these gorgeous rainbow stacked heels I now wouldn't have anywhere to wear. I also ordered two new pairs of TOMS in gold glitter and bright fuschia for no other reason than they made me smile, and I'm pretty sure fuschia can be a neutral when you work from home.
Though I did wear heels for about 90 minutes last week!
With both of us healthy and post-vaccine #2, we dressed up and headed to our favorite restaurant to celebrate the 8th anniversary of James's swim school and my belated birthday.
It was so nice. Delicious as always, but mostly just nice to be out, with each other, chatting our way through a lovely meal.
Thanks to blog reader Kimberly's youtube suggestion, I'm the last person on earth to discover youtube makup tutorials and I feel like I've learned a lot. The Sephora spring sale was very well (or perhaps very poorly?) timed.

Also last weekend, I decided to try one of my old barre classes!
"Mine" as in I was the teacher- it was a recording from a zoom class I taught last May, and it was impossible. I cannot tell you how bizarre it is to be sweating and cursing at a former version of yourself. I couldn't even lie and be like "oh, fitness is this instructor's whole life! she works out constantly! she shuns nachos and has never born children!" NO, it's ME. And I was cheerful and chatty and counting with great enthusiasm and always starting at numbers much higher than were necessary and jesus christ I made it through the first 17 minutes before turning me off and going to brunch with friends on the gorgeous outdoor patio at Joe T's where we waited in line for 90 minutes, drank a pitcher of margaritas, and ate ALL the food.
It's super weird that some of my old work clothes don't fit.
I did finish my workout the next day and have done one in full every day since. I'm coming back and it feels good.

And at 8:00 a.m. this morning I kicked it up a notch and went to my first heated yoga class in fourteen months.
And it was more wonderful than I can say- I floated home on a cloud of sweat and endorphins and would have hugged every member of my family if they would have let me get that close to them before taking a shower.

I have missed group fitness classes so so much. They recharge my internal battery- truly they filleth my very soul- and I have missed them more than anything else during the last year+. The music, the heat, the intensity, the energy that comes from a live instructor and a group of people with a common goal. It's just beautiful. And though my muscles were so tight and nearly atrophied from sitting 12+ hours a day at my bedroom desk, I hit a headstand with straight arms and felt like I was on top of the world. In a few months I think I'll be ready to get back to teaching and I'm really starting to miss it.

Alright, Maggie and I need to get back to work- Happy Sunday (and the last day of the Sephora sale) to all!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

3 Weeks of Food

We enjoyed a fun and delicious Easter weekend with parents and hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend as well. Maggie is so glad you enjoyed her story and also sad the Easter Bunny did not bring her a single honeybun. I'll write up our Houston visit soon, but until then, I need this blog to link to all the recipes I pulled for this week, so for my future reference, here is our next 3 weeks of food.
I started planning 2-3 weeks at a time at the start of the pandemic and found it helps me create a more well-rounded menu. It also prevents us from eating out because there's always a recipe and ingredients ready for the next day (particularly through the weekends; I used to plan Mon-Fri and Sat and Sun often fell through the cracks). I don't mind spending money on restaurants, but I want it to be anticipated or needed, not because I can't think of anything to make. We're a family of five that eats like ten- it's $100 minimum to get food from anywhere and that needs to be a deliberate expense.

When I plan our menus I always try to spread out the proteins, include a few vegetarian meals, vary the flavors, and take into account my work schedule (witness interview days require short prep and/or a crockpot), kids' activity schedule (football game days are Tuesdays and we need something that reheats well for when Landon gets home late), etc. I reassess weeks 2 and 3 as we get closer, but it helps me to have ideas sketched out in advance.

Our division of labor: I make the menu plan and the grocery lists (reading new recipes is one of my favorite hobbies), James does all the shopping (big trips on weekend with small ones scattered throughout the week for fresh ingredients, since he works from home even in non-pandemic times), and I do the cooking (he coaches until 6:30 pm most days, but back when I went to work he'd put together crock pot meals as needed during the day and always helps wrap up any tasks when he gets in from coaching). Cora clears the table, Claire wipes the table, Landon does the dishes and wipes the counters, and Claire empties the dishwasher in the morning. It works!

My mom always sets the prettiest tables for every meal

Menu for April 5-25

Mon: Leftover ribs and sides from Papa & Gigi's with Honey Mustard Broccoli Slaw for something fresh
Tues: Honey Mustard Chopped Chicken Salad
Wed: Leftover brisket from Papa & Gigi's to make Brisket Enchiladas, Mexican rice, black refried beans
Thurs: Sheet Pan Sausage & Vegetables (subbing in Brussels sprouts for bell pepper), Parmesan Orzo
Fri: Date night!! James and I are getting fancy to celebrate the 8th anniversary of the swim school and the kids are having mac and cheese and we are all VERY EXCITED.
Sat: Sunshine Lentil Bowls with Garlic Dressing
Sun: Sunday Chili!, toppings, corn chips

Mon: Greek Pasta Salad with grilled chicken
Tues: Crockpot Creamy Chicken Taco Chili, chips, toppings
Wed:: Best-Ever Farro Salad (I haven't made this before but the title sounds promising)
Thurs: Panko Crusted Cod (from Costco), Rice Pilaf, frozen mixed veg
Fri: Detoit-Style Pepperoni Pizza (x2), raw veg on side
Sat: Chicken Sheet Pan Quesadillas
Sun: Steak Salad with Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette (adding bleu cheese crumbles)

Mon: Pineapple Pork with Coconut Rice
Tues: Caprese Pesto Gnocchi (cooked/drained gnocchi tossed with pesto, fresh mozzarella balls, and cherry tomatoes), TJ's pre-grilled chicken, TJ's balsamic glaze drizzled on top
Wed: Ground Beef Tacos, Mexican rice, refried black beans, toppings
Thurs: TJ's Gyros with Naan, Tzatziki, toppings (tomato, cucumber, Kalamata olives), and Roasted Potatoes on the side
Fri: Homemade Calzones!
Sat: Lemon Chicken Pasta, steamed broccoli
Sun: Black Bean Spinach Enchiladas, Cilantro rice

Also, we had some of my most ever delicious recipes over Easter and I need to save them here:
Sat Dinner Side Dish: Zucchini, Squash, and Corn Casserole (served with our chicken fajitas; I skipped step 1 and just lightly sauteed the squash and zucchini with the pan at the end of the onion time. I used panko bread crumbs and halved the recipe to fit in an 8x8 pan. It was SO GOOD.)

Brunch: Eggs Benedict Casserole with Blender Hollandaise Sauce. New favorite breakfast casserole. I love Eggs Benedict but poaching eggs for a crowd is risky and time consuming. This was so easy and so delicious. The sauce came out perfectly and I'll never make Hollandaise another way.

Treats: The Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls. More work intensive than other recipes I've made but OMG SO GOOD. My entire family declared them my best ever, so I guess this is my recipe now.
The Best Carrot Cake. I also made this last year for our quarantined Easter and now everyone else got to share in its deliciousness. This time I did one thick layer of cake in a 9x13 pan with the Cream Cheese Frosting (I halved the cream cheese amount but kept everything else the same) and crushed candied pecans sprinkled over the whole top. Easier, allowed the cream cheese haters to more easily separate it from the cake (weirdos), and all in all was completely amazing.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Maggie's Most Delicious Day

Hi guys, this is a post about Maggie.
As nearly all of you know, Maggie is our deaf rescue bulldog. She has one big scar and lots of other small ones, no teeth, ragged ears, an amputated tail, and many other reminders from her days as a puppy mill mama, but she lives a life of well-earned luxury now.
She is also the sweetest wrinkled little ball of love that there ever was and I love her with my whole heart.
Maggie has NO survival skills.
She can't see out of one eye and can't hear anything at all. Her nose is smooshed and her olfactory abilities are meager at best. She seems to smell the world through her tongue, occasionally licking her way around the kitchen floor just to check to see if any crumbs have fallen.

Sometimes foods fall right next to her and she has absolutely no idea, sighing heavily and dreaming of handouts while napping inches away.
She spends most of her day sleeping in odd positions, wrinkles pooling from gravity, absolutely exhausted from carrying her big head around each minute she's awake.
She dutifully watches squirrels with Moose every morning between naps, but we're sure she's never actually seen one.
She likes to hang out on our front porch watching the world go by and saying hi to friends. The one time she wandered off, she was lost and had given all hope by the time she reached our next-door neighbor's yard. Curling up in the sun, lost forever, I was waving my arms and calling her name from 6 feet away, but she was facing the wrong way and thus in an entirely different universe she was certain she'd never seen before.
She frequently walks into the glass storm door and doesn't understand she has to move for us to be able to pull it open and let her through.
We have to monitor her water drinking and stop her along the way, because left to her own devices she will drink until her stomach is so full she throws it all back up.

We wipe her folds and loose skin nightly, regularly apply ear cleanses, saline drops, and/or antibiotic ointments, and, despite having 3 potty trained children, we still have to keep baby wipes on hand because sometimes she needs a wipe post-potty break.
The point is, she requires a lot of care from her humans to simply exist day-to-day and would not last long in the wild.
And the only thing she hunts are spots of sunshine.
But, on Tuesday of this week, she had one shining moment as a forager and provided a tasty meal for herself all on her very own.
To set the stage: Landon had ridden his bike to our little neighborhood grocery store a week ago to buy me a rotisserie chicken for dinner (I'm getting hints of what it will be like to have a kid who can drive and it is GREAT) and apparently decided to buy himself some candy and honeybuns at the same time. He ate the candy, but full, and concerned his sisters would eat his honeybuns, he hid them in his room- a place where food has NEVER been allowed- on the BOTTOM SHELF of his bookcase and then completely forgot about them.

Maggie, on walkabout Tuesday morning to find me (she does this whenever she wakes up from a nap), took the rare detour into Landon's room. Her smooshed non-nose somehow led her to the bookcase where she could smell the sweet deliciousness of the honeybuns through the cardboard and cellophane.

Delighted and probably shocked by her discovery, she somehow carried the box to the livingroom, right to our beautiful new fluffy carpet- the obvious optimal location to settle in and enjoy her bounty.

And then, her cramped mouth with its filed-down teeth somehow tore open the box, tore open the individual cellophane packets, and chewed up the honeybuns, evenly distributing bits of paper mache and sugar throughout the carpet to enjoy later.

While Maggie was in raptures over her new foraging skills, James was coaching lessons and I was on calls and we had no idea our dog who sleeps 22 hours a day and has never chewed anything besides her kibbles was up to anything mischievious.

Later, while Maggie enjoyed a sugar coma sprinkled generously with sugar farts, James walked across the carpet, only to cry out in horror as his feet crunched on invisible sticky sugar spikes.

One thing you have to understand is that James LOVES the new carpet. It is his very favorite thing in our house- he won't let anyone walk on it with shoes and he does his stretches on it for an hour every single night. He also a bit OCD about particular things in the house and that carpet is one of them. To say he was displeased would be a vast and enormous understatement.

While Maggie snored on, oblivious to his bellows from two feet away, James called our friend to send the girls home- assuming they were the culprits. I was still on my calls in the bedroom, hearing the intermittent bellowing and mentions of honeybuns, but assumed nothing was on fire and just muted my line whenever he got particularly loud.

Snores and Sugar Farts

Luckily for them, the girls were innocent and cheerfully skipped back to our friend's house, likely delighted at the displeasure in store for Landon when he got home.

But Landon had football practice and then a football game and then a ride home and THEN James finally got to pounce, "DID YOU BUY HONEYBUNS AND LEAVE THEM IN YOUR ROOM?!!"

[Shocked innocent face that slowly morphs into a face that remembers securing honeybuns on the floor of his room.]

The crime scene had remained secured so Landon could gaze upon the wreckage, and after consulting google and inventoring our home cleaning products, he got down to work extracting sugar and paper from a once-very fluffy ivory colored carpet.

It's pretty much back to normal, though when he stretches James insists he can still smell the honeybuns.

For her part, Maggie remains amazed she ever found such a treasure and can frequently be fround trotting through Landon's room looking for more, or licking gently at the living room carpet, wondering where it all went.
I told her yesterday there would absolutely be no more honeybuns and the side eye she gave me let me know she heard me in her heart.
And so endeth the great honeybun incident of 2021.
I'd say Maggie will never forget them except she probably already has.