Sunday, May 7, 2017

On My List

I try to make a point to plan out our meals for the week each Sunday. Then on Friday I plan out the meals for the weekend. It saves me so much work during the week if I already know what I'm making for dinner. Plus it cuts down on the expense of last minute takeout dinners, of course those are bound to happen from time to time. I got this handy pad of weekly schedules that helps me sort out everything we have coming up. This week is especially busy, with two evening spring performances and two evening kung fu classes, not to mention the sick preschooler currently coughing on the couch, which might complicate things further...

I had seen the beautiful cookbook, Feeding A Family by Sarah Waldman, on Instagram a few weeks ago and it piqued my interest. I checked the library (my first stop for new books) but they didn't have it. Last weekend I spotted it at Costco - the only one I could see on a stack of other books - and bought it. I'm so glad I did! It is gorgeous and delicious and I'm not just talking about the food. I'm seriously coveting a few of the sweaters that appear in the book. What can I say? I love sweaters. Sigh...

We made the chocolate mint milkshakes, sweetened with dates and a frozen banana, and we all loved them. They reminded me of a Frosty, a childhood favorite of mine. We drank a round and then froze the rest into popsicle molds for the strangely hot days that came later in the week. I asked the kids to tag the recipes they were interested in. Gianna tagged every dessert plus roasted carrots and steamed artichokes. Dean tagged a curry noodle bowl, roasted veggie sushi rolls, and apple cider donuts.

Here's the menu for the week:
Sunday - chicken tortilla soup + broccoli (the broth is in the slow cooker right now)

Monday - chicken tortilla soup + salad

Tuesday - enchiladas + beans & rice for the enchilada-averse, + broccoli

Wednesday - slow cooker chicken gyros + veggies + frozen melon balls (from the new book!)

Thursday - enchiladas + beans & rice again

Friday - slow cooker chicken gyros + veggies + frozen melon balls

I don't think the kids have ever had a gyro before. I'm fairly certain that Gianna will eat the flatbread and possibly nothing else. Trying new recipes is always tricky. I try hard not to take rejected food personally. Crossing my fingers for success!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Daffodils, Tulips, and Doughnuts

Last week Gianna turned seven. The week before I went to the fabric store looking to buy a skirt pattern. I came home with a dress pattern (Ellie Mae Designs, K147) and found myself cursing that decision as I realized how much more work a whole dress - with sleeves, pockets, and buttonholes - can be. I sewed the buttons on at 11 the night before her birthday so she could wear it to school the next morning. She told me it was her favorite gift; "Mom, I knew you were making me something, but this is more amazing than I imagined!" The following weekend we hosted a party for her, 10 of her little friends and their parents. One parent remarked that we should write a book on throwing children's birthday parties. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun. We made pizza & mimosas, stuffed a piƱata & stacked store bought doughnuts. Vincent is amazing and wrote up and hid 10 treasure hunt clues around the house and yard. Another parent commented that our house really felt like a home, which made me really happy. I love the saying "Less house, more home" and have really taken it to heart.

As I was sewing, cooking, and tidying I listened to Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco. It is about her time working for Barack Obama when he was in the Senate and in the White House. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I also listened to S-Town which was beautifully told and captivating. I finally finished listening to The Year of Yes and found it inspiring and motivating.

A year ago we started the process of redoing the front yard; building retaining walls, tearing out azaleas, planting perennials and burying bulbs. Now things are coming up and beginning to blossom and it is wonderful! A few plants died in the snow and a few others that I thought had died have come back! What a welcome treat it was to see the Bleeding Heart bigger and better than ever. Last year I was guessing a lot when I was buying plants. Now I know to get a few more Alyssum "Basket of Gold" and to plant more bulbs next fall. The anemones were up first and are still blooming. The squirrels dug up all of the crocus bulbs, so I know not to plant them again, sadly.

It has been quite rainy and still cold at night. This weekend is supposed to be warmer and dry. I hope to plant the veggie starts I started a few weeks ago into the ground. Dean is home sick with pink eye and a respiratory virus, so hopefully he'll feel good enough by Sunday to join me in the garden and do an easter egg hunt as well. Squirting ointment into his eyes 4 times per day for the next 7 days is torture for both of us. We both would benefit from some sun and digging in the dirt, I think.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Winter Warmth in Spring

I'm almost always cold and am constantly seeking out warmth. I always want to sit by a fireplace. Our last house had one and for a while I didn't want to look at houses that didn't have one. I quickly realized that was a bit ridiculous. When we found this house I was very excited to see that the previous owners had put in a stove pipe for a wood stove. They had taken the wood stove with them, but had left the fixture from the ceiling through the roof. Over the next couple of years my husband and I debated whether we had the room for a wood stove. We talked about putting in a fireplace in the corner. We've had so many great conversations about possible changes we could make to this house; it's such a blank slate. 

After having multiple snow days this winter we decided to get one. I picked up a few brochures at a local family owned shop on day in January and that evening it snowed 8". We were snowed in for the next week. We spent that snowy week drooling over those european wood stoves, wishing one was already in our home. We picked one out, only to find out it was on back order. We chose a different one, much smaller, only to hear that not only was it also on back order but it was the 'most popular stove in the world.' We decided to stick with it and wait. I kept calling, trying to get an idea of when it would come in. I didn't hear anything. We were frustrated. Six weeks later, after complaining and complaining, we finally got it. As it was delivered we were told that we were lucky because they're still on back order and the other one they received had fallen off the truck and had cracked. The squeaking wheel gets the grease! I'm so glad I kept calling.

Now it is officially spring, temperatures are warming up, flowers are blooming, and we now have this wonderful wood stove. Neither of us had ever built a fire in a wood stove before and wrongly assumed it was the same as a fireplace. It isn't! It's so much easier. You pack it full of kindling, paper, and dry logs, light it and close the door. That's it. It puts out so much heat when it gets going. I'm actually looking forward to next winter already so I can keep a fire going all day. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sigh, It's Still Winter

Highs and lows of the last few days

Lows: kid stomach flu leading to lots of laundry, excessive tv consumption and parental sleep deprivation, also waking up to snow falling Monday morning.

Highs: kid learning how to puke successfully in a bowl (!), the shelves that Vincent built for the kitchen that make it feel finished, blooming quince branches from the backyard.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Hope of Spring

Tomorrow is March 1st and we are all feeling quite ready for spring to begin. The garden is tilled and ready to be planted. Vincent built that lovely cold frame box at the foot of the garden for me, so I can harden off the seedlings I start inside.

The finishing touches were put on our new kitchen pass through/counter and it is now the most popular spot in the house. One morning I heard the kids get up and I found them both sitting on stools in the dark, waiting for breakfast to magically appear on the counter. We all love it. Now someone can sit and chat with me while I cook. Before, friends would, understandably, drag chairs into the kitchen and, unfortunately, be in the way. Now it's much more inviting.

Gianna has been creating books lately. She staples the pages together and then writes and illustrates them. If she finishes her story but still has a page or two left she adds an authors note, which includes the list of all the other books she has written. It's so cute. Our favorite is called "I Love My Family." In it she lists how much she loves everyone: Daddy to the moon and back, Mom as much as gold, little brother as much as money, the cat as much as a pearl and herself as much as a ruby. I was so happy to see that she included herself. I hope she holds onto that love for the rest of her life.

Last week I read Hillbilly Elegy. It was compelling and well written. I've been listening to Rebecca Solnit's Hope in the Dark which is uplifting, beautifully written and makes me well up with tears frequently because I'm one of those people (overly sentimental) that cries at anything sweet, sad or good: commercials, movie trailers, community parades... I'm looking forward to some serious (non-emotional) escapism with Big Little Lies.