Dallas Arboretum Tree Lighting

This is such a weird week: half day Wednesday, no school Thursday, regular school day Friday. We did enjoy our random little day off today! The kids slept in, then we pretty much just hung out at home. Jack had a scout meeting tonight, so Brian took him while Isla and I stayed home and watched The Descendants for the 400th time.

On Tuesday night we headed to the Arboretum for their annual tree lighting. We went last year, too, and it’s so much fun! You can walk around and check out the 12 Days of Christmas display, which is lit up at night and so pretty. My favorite, the swans a’ swimming.

(My pics are TERRIBLE. Someday I will upgrade from my iPhone 6. Someday…)

The kids took full advantage of the hot chocolate offerings (Brian and I opted for the mulled wine). It was in the 30′s Tuesday night, which made it feel even more Christmas-y. Obviously we had to stop and see Santa.

Jack said he wants a pair of Heely’s, and Isla said she wanted… a notebook??

He didn’t ask me what I wanted. (Hint: A NEW PHONE)

The tree was beautiful! The kids loved watching them throw the giant switch to light it up.

Highly recommend checking out all of the Dallas Arboretum holiday offerings if you get a chance! They have a new Christmas village opening soon (in the same area where they have the pumpkin houses in the fall) and the kids are begging to go.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! My goal is to take down all of our fall decor and get Christmas out. We’ll see…

Posted in November 2019 | Leave a comment

Chili Weather

Y’all, it is COLD here in Dallas! It was in the 20′s when I drove the kids to school this morning and barely got to 40 this afternoon. I love it. Isla’s on the fence?

Obviously it’s soup weather (because when is it not?) so last night I pulled out the Instant Pot and made a batch of this white chicken chili.

It’s the first time I’ve made this exact recipe, but I’ve definitely made similar soups before: chicken, beans, corn, Ro-tel, onions, cream cheese. This one was a winner though because it’s very much dump-and-go. No sauteing, no pre-cooking the chicken.

You chop the onion, drain and rinse the beans, but then everything (including the cream cheese) goes into the Instant Pot at the same time. Then after 20 minutes- plus 10 minutes of pressure release- you just remove the chicken, shred it, then add it back to the pot. I also added a bunch of lime juice.

Served with cilantro, avocado and tortilla chips:

It was really good! Even Jack liked it, and he’s not typically a soup/stew fan.

The kids have one of their weird weeks where they have a half day tomorrow and no school Thursday for parent-teacher conferences. We have three conferences tomorrow evening, but no plans for Thursday. Excited to have a mid-week break!

Posted in November 2019 | Leave a comment

Under the Weather

I’ve been feeling pretty under the weather this week. On Monday I spiked a fever that got up over 102 during the night- here’s what my sleep app recorded:

Red = sleep, black = awake. Ugh. And that’s including a nap Tuesday afternoon; only 3hrs 47 min of sleep Monday night

It was brutal! I woke up every 15 minutes either sweating or with chills. I went to the doctor on Tuesday and tested negative for the flu, so the doctor seemed to think it was just a bad sinus infection. So started a round of antibiotics and am finally starting to feel normal. The last couple of days have involved a lot of this:

Watching TV in bed with these guys. We finished the third season of Workin’ Moms today! Also Chloe doesn’t believe in personal space.

Not been doing a ton of cooking, though last night I did make this Asian ground turkey and green bean stir fry. It’s a really quick, easy, kid-friendly (well, Jack-friendly… Isla ate buttered noodles) meal. I added a bag of cremini mushrooms once the turkey was browned, then cooked them for a few minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients.

The flavor is great and not at all spicy. I added sriracha to mine. Also, I only had to buy the veggies and turkey because we had everything else on hand already- that NEVER happens!

Ok heading to bed- between this sinus stuff and the fact that it’s dark at 5pm, I’m basically on a toddler’s schedule.

Posted in November 2019 | Leave a comment

King Ranch Chicken

Happy (almost) Halloween! Bob Ross and Eloise are pretty pumped about tomorrow. All of a sudden it’s gotten really cold in Dallas, which seems just right for Halloween week.

Given the cold and rain, Isla’s last soccer practice was canceled last night. Usually we’re throwing together the easiest dinner possible on Tuesdays (or going out), so I took advantage of the extra time and actually made a REAL meal. Pulled out the ol’ Magnolia Table cookbook again- hasn’t failed me yet- and decided to try the King Ranch Chicken Casserole. The ingredient list is a little lengthy but it really didn’t take much time to put together. One helpful tip?

This shredded rotisserie chicken from Target. AWESOME. I hate pulling apart chickens. This cost about the same as a whole rotisserie chicken at Target, but I usually end up tossing the wings and legs anyway so I see it as a wash.

ALSO. The recipe *says* that it makes one 9×13 dish… but it actually makes wayyyy more than that. I was able to fill two 9×13′s (one went into the freezer).

It’s pure comfort food. I tried to lighten it up with light sour cream, reduced fat cheese and Healthy Request soup- but there’s still a LOT of cheese in there. We topped ours with diced tomatoes and cilantro.

I’m not posting the recipe since it’s from a cookbook, but FYI if you google it you’ll find pics of the recipe. You should just go ahead and buy the cookbook though; it’s definitely worth the investment.

Have a great Halloween!!

Posted in October 2019 | Leave a comment

Field Trips and Fire Children

Today I chaperoned Isla’s field trip to the Cathedral Guadalupe downtown. Her class is so cute and they were really good for the cathedral tour… but also REALLY anxious to get to part 2, playtime/picnic at Klyde Warren Park.

She cute. Even if she won’t look at the camera.

This week has felt really hectic. No school Monday, then yesterday we had ballet, soccer game and open house/science night at school. Today was the field trip followed by a dentist appointment to re-do one of Isla’s fillings. It was storming like crazy this evening, so after the dentist appointment I just grabbed Chick Fil A for the kids, plopped them in front of a movie and called it a night. We’re all pretty beat.

The other day at Target I grabbed this Cooking Light Soups and Stews magazine.

Literally everything in it sounds amazing. It’s finally cold(ish) and I am here for it. The first recipe I made is the Immunity Soup. I was feeling kind of run down last week and this sounded like a good, super healthy soup to have on hand. It contains tons of garlic, lots of fresh vegetables and bone-in chicken breasts. You just shred the chicken and add it, along with a bunch of kale, back to the pot at the end.

Ingredients:

I also added the juice of 2 lemons. Also instead of chickpeas, I used these little mixed-bean pouches from Costco.

Super good, filling and makes a TON.

Ok so a couple of new snack-y finds. I’m obsessed with these frozen dark and white chocolate-covered raspberries. I found them at Target and they are the perfect late night dessert. They take a little while to eat because they’re frozen… the kids love them too.

Also these peppermint white chocolate pretzel thins from Costco. OMG. I kept seeing people post about them and snagged a bag last weekend. They are dangerous.

Finally- I flew through my October Book of the Month pick, Nothing to See Here. It won’t be released on Amazon until the 29th (Book of the Month sometimes offers pre-release options). It’s the weirdest, quirkiest story, but I kind of loved it. Basically it’s about 2 former boarding school roommates. One is married to a wealthy senator, and the other is barely scraping by, sacking groceries in the small town where she grew up. The wealthy friend hires the other to serve as a “governess” for her two stepchildren… who happen to burst into flame whenever they get angry. I know- WEIRD. But somehow really sweet, funny, and so well written. It’s a quick read, too. I just started Verity by Colleen Hoover, and I really need to get into our November book club pick, The Road Back to You. Too many good books!

Posted in October 2019 | Leave a comment

(Crazy) Weekend Recap

Well, we’ve had an interesting few days! Our weekend was great- trunk or treat, Nutcracker practice, birthday party, took the kids on a bike ride, got them both much-needed haircuts. We even managed to get them into bed super early on Sunday night… only to wake them an hour later in order to herd the kids (and the pets) into our interior hall bath. On our way home from dinner earlier that evening, Brian and I were commenting on how weird and ominous the sky looked. Then around 9 we were watching TV, and all of a sudden the weather guy cut in and said to take shelter immediately because a tornado had touched down near Love Field airport. That’s about 6 miles from our house, but then the news reported that the tornado was around Northpark Mall- only about a mile and a half away.

It ended up being an F3 tornado that tore a path through North Dallas and up into Richardson. We were so lucky. All we got in our neighborhood were wind and bad storms (and nothing like what we had back in June), but areas just north and west of us were demolished.

Our school was cancelled on Monday due to a power outage- which thrilled the kids, of course. Our local Alamo Drafthouse opened their doors for free G and PG movies so I ended up taking them to see Maleficent. But then today it was back to school as usual!

Dinner was a random, thrown-together mess that ended up being pretty good! I made a batch of this lemon artichoke shredded chicken, but instead of cooking it in the Instant Pot, I threw it all in the crock pot.

3 frozen chicken breasts, the juice of 1 lemon, jar of artichoke antipasto, 1 cup chicken broth, seasoned salt. Cooked on high in the crock pot for 4 hours, then shredded the chicken, poured off about half of the juice and added the chicken back to the crock pot.

We ended up making bowls by layering baby spinach, cooked couscous, shredded chicken, diced tomatoes, feta cheese and a balsamic drizzle:

Easy to throw together after practice! And chicken left over for salads, wraps, etc.

Hoping for an uneventful rest of the week!

Posted in October 2019 | Leave a comment

Fair Day 2019

The kids have had standardized testing at school this week and it has been SO NICE not having any homework. The idea was that it would allow us to get them to bed earlier… orrrr take them to the State Fair?

My parents and I took them to the fair right after school on Tuesday, then Brian met us there once he got off work. We did all the things- petting zoo, rides, midway, wild bird show (very cool), games, and obviously lots of food. Isla was too short to ride the Crazy Mouse roller coaster on her own, so all 4 of us rode together. It looks like just a little kiddie ride, but then I realized (too late) that it spins you around the entire time. I literally almost barfed, which the kids thought was HILARIOUS. Ugh.

It’s actually a little chilly here now!! Finally. I’m craving all the soup-y things. Yesterday I made this easy bean soup in the crock pot. The recipe is actually from the bag of beans I grabbed at Target, though I improvised a little.

Ingredients:

Also, one ham steak that I diced into small pieces.

Into the crock pot went:

  • 3 sliced carrots
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 ham steak (I think 12 oz), diced
  • bag of beans, rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves

Cooked on low for 8 hours, then seasoned with a little Worcestershire and Liquid Smoke.

Served with sourdough and salad:

Very healthy and filling! I had leftovers for lunch today. Soup is really the only leftover I look forward to.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! We have Trunk or Treat tomorrow, Nutcracker rehearsal on Saturday and a b-day party on Sunday. We tried on their costumes tonight, and I have to say, they are pretty awesome this year…

Posted in October 2019 | Leave a comment

October Book Club

Last week I hosted October book club. Not to be cheesy, but it’s my favorite month and my favorite people! For dinner I made Skinnytaste’s turkey chili taco soup, Jo’s quick table salad from the Magnolia Table cookbook, and mini cornbread loaves (not homemade- from Target bakery). Also made these little pumpkin cupcakes- from a mix and with canned cream cheese frosting, but I found the cute wrappers at Home Goods and the sugar weapons at Target:

A few more pics before everyone arrived:

We had a busy weekend! The kids had a half day on Thursday and no school on Friday. Isla had her first 2nd grade girls’ book club meeting on Thursday (they read Pippy Longstocking), then dentist appointments for the kiddos followed by a Thursday night soccer game for Isla. On Friday we met our friends Jill and Jane for lunch, then Jack had a birthday party that afternoon and I took Isla to get our nails done. Friday was CHILLY! I loved it. We had a lazy morning and I turned on the fireplace for the first time this season. Someone was VERY curious:

Speaking of sweet Tucker, we took him in to be neutered, microchipped and vaccinated this morning. The surgery went well but the poor guy is NOT happy. He has to stay in his cage until tomorrow AM and he’s just sitting in the living room meowing right now.

This is how we found him Saturday… just spooning Isla’s AG doll.

On the book front, I finished This Tender Land on Friday and am so sad that it’s over. Highly recommend! I chose Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key as a my Book of the Month a while back but hadn’t gotten around to reading it. I just started it this weekend and so far so good! It’s a nice, creepy October read.

Posted in October 2019 | Leave a comment

Menu Lately

It finally feels like fall in Dallas! Hallelujah. I mean, it’s supposed to be back up to 90 tomorrow… but the past 2 mornings of sweatshirt weather have been fabulous. Also the high on Friday is 60 and I WILL TAKE IT.

I’m hosting book club tomorrow so the house is all decorated for Halloween, inside and out. Poor Brian had to hang this guy on Sunday:

I’ve tried a couple of new recipes lately, both from Skinnytaste. The first was this slow cooker chicken and sausage creole. I made it last Tuesday to eat after soccer practice.

Ingredients:

Served with white rice:

It was pretty good. Not spicy at all- the kids ate something else before practice, but this would have been fine for them (well for Jack… Isla wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole).

The other recent try was this air fryer salmon with maple soy glaze. It was really easy to throw together, and we had all of the marinade ingredients on hand. My only issue with this one was that the salmon was overcooked- I’ll try it again but next time check it after 5 minutes instead of 7.

Served with couscous and roasted broccoli:

I’m almost done with my September Book of the Month pick, This Tender Land. It is SO GOOD. If you liked Cold Mountain or Before We Were Yours, you’ll love this one.

Night!

Posted in October 2019 | Leave a comment

Weekend Recap

The kids had a half day on Friday (Fair Day), so we headed to the Arboretum to check out the pumpkins. When the kids were little we would head to the Arboretum with friends almost weekly- like here, here, here… ugh those sweet baby pics kill me. But now that they’re older that whole school thing gets in the way of our fun outings.

Anyway, it was fun to explore. They have a Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin theme this year. Isla loved it, Jack was too cool for everything except stomping around in the water features.

We had a busy/fun weekend. Two soccer games on Saturday, then we headed to our neighborhood Oktoberfest late that afternoon. We were pretty lazy during the day on Sunday, then Sunday night my parents hosted a birthday dinner for my SIL. Fun weekend that went too fast!

This morning Isla found out that she made the Nutcracker cast again. This year she’s going to be a gingerbread and she is SO excited (the gingerbread are delivered onstage via a giant slide, so I think that’s like 99% of her excitement). Rehearsals start this weekend- heeeere we go!

Posted in September 2019 | Leave a comment