Fridge Clean Out

Hello hello! We’ve had a pretty great, low-key week. I actually had to wake BOTH of the kids at almost 9:30 this AM so I could make it to an appointment. Love that.

Isla lost another tooth this week! She yanked this one out in the car on the way to the library like it was nothing:

She’s having a sleepover with her bestie tonight, so we had some only-child time with Jack. He requested the “sushi conveyor belt restaurant” (aka, Kura):

He’s so sweet! I love getting one-on-one (well, two-on-one) time with them.

We’re trying to clean out the fridge before we leave for vacation, so last night I made pizzas using those Trader Joe’s slab crusts. I also made a batch of Salty Lashes Easiest Shrimp Ceviche and it was SO GOOD. You marinate the (cooked) shrimp in a mixture of fresh orange, lemon and lime juice. Then you make a pico-type mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno and avocado. Once the shrimp has marinated for about an hour, you combine all of the ingredients.

I added more lime juice and a splash of white wine vinegar, then seasoned with salt and fresh pepper. Seriously SUCH a good summer dinner! Brian loved it too.

We’re all getting really excited for vacation. My parents leave tomorrow (they’re driving). We’re flying to Chicago early Saturday AM and plan to sightsee, then drive up to Michigan on Sunday. I’m like 75% packed, which is a miracle. Not sure if I’ll be able to post from MI, so this may be it for a while… but obviously I’ll be overposting on Instagram.

Posted in June 2019 | Leave a comment

Weekend Recap

This is our first week of summer with NOTHING on the agenda, and it is glorious. Last night I popped a melatonin, diffused some lavender oil, turned off my alarm and slept for NINE FREAKING HOURS. Even Isla slept until 9:40. I think we’re all pretty wiped out and ready for some R&R- which is great timing because we leave for Michigan on Saturday! Cannot wait.

This weekend was crazy. Friday was Jack’s last day of camp/show-off day for the parents. Isla and I (and Jack) headed up there at 9 for mass, then he took me around and introduced me to his teachers. He chose his classes (coding, space and business) and was there from 9-3:45 for three weeks- so it was a pretty intense experience. He loved it and has already asked to go back next summer, though I do think he’s ready to have a “normal” summer schedule.

Isla’s amazing first grade teacher organized a lunch “reunion” on Friday, so we rushed from camp over to Chick Fil A at noon. Isla was SO excited to see her teacher and all of her buddies. Her grade is super small (31 kids vs. 50ish for Jack), which I love.

My parents watched the kids on Saturday night so we could attend a going away party for my sweet friend Camille. Her family is moving back to her hometown in the TX panhandle, and I’m excited for her but sooooo sad for us. She is one of the OG members of our book club (which celebrated 10 YEARS in March) and we will miss her so much!

We were up late Saturday night, and I think Brian and I were both on the struggle bus Sunday morning… which was great because we had Isla’s birthday party at 1.

We went with an elegant, understated cake this year:

HA. Isla picked it out, can you tell??

Luckily the rain held off and she had a great party! Can’t believe our baby is 7.

Today I did alllllll the grocery shopping. We hit up both Trader Joe’s and Target. I’ve been craving my fave BBQ beans and kale recipe, so I made a batch of that for dinner. We also had air fryer chicken breasts, marinated in THE BEST dressing:

Have I talked about this stuff before? It’s ridiculously good, both on salads and as a marinade.

Not the prettiest meal, but delicious. I still can’t get over how well chicken breasts do in the air fryer- they crisp up on the outside but still stay juicy inside. Love.

Right now I’m reading Miracle Creek, one of my Book of the Month picks from a month or two ago. It’s pretty compelling- I have to force myself to put it down and go to sleep every night. If you like mystery/courtroom dramas, you’ll love this one.

Posted in June 2019 | 2 Comments

Pizza Night

Friday night usually means going out for Tex-Mex (cough*margarita*cough), but after last week’s storm/power outage/birthday/camp chaos, we were all pretty exhausted. Instead of going out for dinner, we decided to make it a low-key pizza and movie night. I had the genius idea of making pizza rather than ordering, figuring that it would be cheaper and healthier. HA! One trip to Trader Joe’s and $70 later…

(To be fair, I did buy other things. Like pickle popcorn and wine.)

Ingredients:

Those pizza crusts are legit! I couldn’t decide between those and the pre-made dough, but these were great. They come 2 “slabs” to a package.

For the kids’ pizza, I just did red sauce and cheese. I split our crust in half and topped one half  with sauce, cheese, pepperoni and fresh basil.

I spread the second half with fig jam, then sprinkled goat cheese on top. Once it came out of the oven, I topped it with fresh arugula and then drizzled with balsamic reduction. OMG SO GOOD. It would have been fantastic with prosciutto, too.

Not a bad Friday night! I didn’t even miss my margarita. We still have a lot of ingredients left over so may have to do round 2 this weekend.

Posted in June 2019 | 2 Comments

Week of Crazy

Last week was CRAZY. In case you’re not in Dallas, we had the wildest storm last Sunday and the area is still recovering. We were getting ready to head to a birthday party around 1:45, when literally out of nowhere came 70 mph winds, large hail and torrential rain. It happened so fast that we didn’t even have time to get the cars in the garage. The lights went out and we all crammed into our hall bathroom (our interior “safe space” during storms). It sounded like our house was going to blow over and I was 100% sure it was a tornado. We’ve been through some crazy storms and tornado warnings and this was by FAR the worst. Turns out that it wasn’t a tornado but some kind of crazy downburst.

We were lucky in that we just lost power for about 27 hours and had some small limbs down. Our neighborhood looked like a war zone- giant trees fell through homes, skylights were shattered (so rain was pouring into houses), windows broken, shutters and shingles blown everywhere, brick walls collapsed, and metal streets signs were literally bent in half. Several friends didn’t have power until Wednesday. We went to Target today and they still have zero frozen foods, cheese or a functioning deli counter.

We spent a hot night at home on Sunday, then on Monday Brian went ahead and booked us a room at the Omni downtown. Our power actually came on late Monday afternoon as we were walking out the door to head downtown, but we opted to go ahead to the hotel- because 1. the kids were SUPER excited, and 2. we didn’t know how long the power would stay on. The hotel was full of families (and pets, ha) who had been displaced by the storm. It ended up being a really fun night! We took the kids to dinner, let them swim before bed, then ordered room service breakfast. It was good timing because Tuesday was Isla’s 7th birthday!!

We asked her what she wanted to do and she said get her nails done and then meet Brian for lunch. Done and done!

My parents also hosted a birthday dinner for Isla on Tuesday night. We asked her where she wanted to have dinner on her b-day and she immediately said, “Gia and Baba’s house.” Their power was out until Tuesday AM so it was touch and go for a while, but luckily it came back on in time and the kids had a blast! They swam, had a little luau and then pizza and cake. Isla was super excited to have her sweet friend Camille there too.

The rest of the week was kind of just scrambling to catch up. We had to throw out all of the food in our fridge and restock. Of course I had a load of laundry going in the washer when the power went out, so that was fun to deal with (so gross). Here’s to hoping the rest of the summer is less eventful!!

This is Jack’s last week of camp. Isla also has vacation bible school from 9-12 all week- she’s super excited, and I’m looking forward to a few hours of being able to get anything done. After this week we have NOTHING for the rest of the summer! Just vacation in a couple of weeks. Super excited to get back to Michigan.

Hopefully back to regular posting this week. Hope everyone is having a safe and fun summer so far!

Posted in June 2019 | Leave a comment

Pickle Chicken

Hey hey! Today felt LONG. Jack just started a 2.5 week camp that runs from 9-3:45, M-Th and from 9-12 on Fridays. It’s really cool because he was able to select his courses (it reminds me of college!), and he opted for classes on coding, space and business. The only hitch is that it’s FAR and in some pretty heavy traffic. This afternoon Isla and I left to go get him at 3 and didn’t get home until around 4:40. Eeesh. But after day 1, it seems like he enjoyed it… and I’m loving getting one on one time with Isla. Anyone else’s kids behave SO MUCH BETTER when their sibling isn’t around??? Seriously, it’s a night and day difference.

Brian had a work dinner tonight, so I grabbed Chick Fil A for the kids (no shame). I stumbled across a recipe a while back that recommended brining chicken breasts in pickle juice. I actually think it was a recipe for copycat CFA sandwiches. On a whim this morning I put a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a dish and covered them in leftover pickle juice, then left them in the fridge to marinate all day.

Tonight I removed the breasts from the brine, patted them dry, then sprayed both sides with avocado oil and sprinkled with my Special Shit seasoning (I mean, it just never gets old). After preheating the air fryer, I cooked them at 350 for 10 minutes, “presentation-side” down. Then flipped and cooked for 5 more minutes, removed the breasts from the air fryer and let them rest for 5 minutes.

They were perfect!! I don’t know if it was the brine, the air fryer, or both- but the outside was perfectly crisp and seasoned, and the inside was still juicy. Chicken breasts can be tricky; half the time they end up tough and dried-out. I’m super impressed with these! Another win for the air fryer.

I chopped up one of the breasts and used it to top my favorite summer salad (if you’re not sick of seeing it yet, you will be soon):

  • butter lettuce
  • sliced strawberries
  • thinly sliced red onion
  • avocado
  • blue cheese
  • candied pecans
  • poppyseed dressing

Not a bad dinner! Especially for like 5 minutes of prep.

Posted in June 2019 | Leave a comment

NYC Recap

FINALLY getting around to writing an NYC recap! We had a busy weekend with end-of-the-year parties and finishing out the saddest soccer season ever (stupid rain). Today was our first day with nothing on the calendar, so it finally feels like summer vacation is upon us!

We left for NYC early Sunday morning (my birthday!), along with my parents, brother and sister-in-law. We went straight from the airport to our hotel, the Omni in Midtown Manhattan. After that we did a little exploring- grabbed a slice of pizza, did some shopping (I found CUTE kids clothes at Uniqlo). Then we met back up with my family and headed to Little Italy for dinner.

We ate dinner at Caffe Napoli, and I’m an idiot and forgot to take any food pics. BUT I had the best arugula salad with shaved parm and pistachios, and tortellini bolognese. It was delicious!

After that we headed over to Rockefeller Center to visit the Top of the Rock. Brian is NOT a fan of heights, but he managed to rally (though I didn’t see him hanging off the edge snapping pics or anything). It was crowded but such a gorgeous view!

We had the sweetest birthday card waiting for us in our room, along with champagne, cheese plate and fruit. Our room was beautiful and wayyyyy bigger that I anticipated. I’d heard horror stories about NYC hotel rooms but this one was fab.

On Monday morning, Brian, Laura, my dad and I took a walk through Central Park- and just *happened* to end up at Levain Bakery. I have no idea how… lol.

Oh my lord. THE COOKIES. Literally the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted. I may have smuggled a few home “for the kids” (yeah right). I also grabbed a chocolate chip brioche for breakfast and it was just as fantastic.

On Monday afternoon the boys went exploring, and the girls wandered around Bergdorf’s and then to the Plaza for afternoon tea. It was so fun! The Plaza even smells amazing (a signature gardenia scent- who knew??). I’ve never been a hot tea fan, but the waiter recommended a vanilla toffee tea that just may have converted me. They brought us a tower with scones, tea sandwiches and little pastries. It was all delicious! I’m dying to take Isla to their Eloise tea.

After the tea, we met back up with the guys and headed to Chelsea to walk the High Line, then trekked to Hudson Yards. The Vessel was super cool, though we weren’t able to get tickets to climb the structure.

The shopping center behind it was very chic- we didn’t have a ton of time to walk around but the shops and restaurants looked cool.

On Monday night we grabbed dinner at the 2nd Avenue Deli (matzo ball soup, pastrami sandwich and pickles!), walked around Times Square, then back to the hotel to crash.

Matzo!!

Tuesday was our last full day in NYC. We fully intended to head over to the Today Show to watch them film, but 5:30am hit and I was NOT getting out of that comfy bed. Once we pulled ourselves together, Brian and I headed down to Soho to the Glossier store. I was dying to check it out, and my sweet in-laws even gave me a gift card for my bday! I ended up with a pretty decent haul- boy brow, balm dot com (birthday cake!), cloud paint (which I’m LOVING), 2 lipsticks and their milky jelly cleanser. So far I’m loving all of it!

After that we took the NBC studio tour. Most of the shows are on hiatus right now, but we were able to see where they film NBC Nightly News, SNL (I was dying) and The Tonight Show. Unfortunately they didn’t allow pics- and are SUPER serious about that, as a woman on our tour discovered- but it was so interesting!

Post-tour, Brian and I rushed off to Serendipity3 for a frozen hot chocolate. That has been on my bucket list for years and it did not disappoint!

So Tuesday night was the REAL reason for our trip. My dad has served as the honorary consulate of Finland for North Texas and Oklahoma for the past 13 years. He received word in April that he would be awarded a medal from the president Finland. The Consulate General hosted a dinner in dad’s honor at his NYC residence, and we were graciously invited to attend. It was a beautiful ceremony and evening, and we are obviously so proud of him!

Yay Dad! He keeps telling the kids that they have to call him Sir Baba now.

After that we met up for drinks at the hotel, then Brian and I took off on a quest for a midnight street vendor hot dog. It was harder than expected but we tracked one down near Central Park:

Wednesday was travel day. We were supposed to get back to Dallas in time to pick up the kids from school, but due to tornadoes in the area we were re-routed to Houston. After sitting on the runway/in the airport for a few hours, we finally made it back to Dallas around 8pm… so just in time for their last day of school on Thursday AM! Thank goodness for Brian’s mom! She stayed with the kids the entire time, and since her flight was cancelled as well, they even got an extra day with Nana.

Whew, ok so that was our trip! It’s funny- typing it out I realize that we did A LOT, but I still have so much on my list that I wanted to see. Guess we need to plan another trip there soon!

(And God bless you if you’re still reading!!! That has to be my longest post ever… thanks for hanging in there!)

Posted in June 2019 | 1 Comment

New Toy

I’m back!! Sorry for the long break, but we were in NYC from Sunday through last night. The trip was SO MUCH FUN. I plan to do a recap this weekend! We fit a lot into 2.5 days… though I still have a huge list of things I want to see/do there.

My birthday was on Sunday (37- ugh, how??? I was 26 when I started this blog!). Most of my “gift” was shopping in NYC, but I did pick out this baby:

Air Fryer! I know, I know- another non-essential appliance that I have zero room for. But I kept seeing recipes that sounded amazing and drank the kool-aid. I picked the air fryer up today at Target and tried it out right away. Cut up a head of cauliflower and tossed it with some buffalo wing sauce, a tiny bit of olive oil (not sure if this was necessary since it already had sauce?), garlic powder and onion powder. Then I preheated the air fryer at 400 for 3 minutes. Added the cauliflower and cooked it for 15 minutes at 400, tossing the veggies around halfway through.

It was SO GOOD. Like I basically ate that entire head of cauliflower by myself. It was crisp without being greasy. I love crunchy, browned roasted veggies, but they take a while in the oven, make the house stink and sometimes seem oily. These were perfect!! I dipped them in some Greek yogurt blue cheese dressing.

Next up, I cooked a bag of Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi in the air fryer for dinner. I drizzled them in a little olive oil, then cooked at 400 for 12 minutes (tossing halfway).

Another winner. They were crunchy on the outside and pillowy on the inside. Better than when I cook them on the stove or in the oven. They were a *tad* brown so next time I might just do 10-11 minutes. Also, often the gnocchi are stuck together straight out of the bag, and I’d recommend trying to separate them as much as possible before cooking. The ones that were stuck just kind of cooked together.

Served with Rao’s marinara and chicken meatballs (cooked in my other giant, unnecessary appliance- the Instant Pot). Arugula salad on the side.

Obviously I’m really pumped about my new toy. Apparently when you’re 37, these are the things that excite you. Send any good recipes my way, please!

Posted in May 2019 | 2 Comments

Mustard-Pecan Salmon

Thanks to a cancelled game and practice, we had an unexpected free night tonight! Jack’s teachers have already called it quits on homework and tests, bless them. Isla still has to study for a spelling test on Thursday, but no homework for her tonight either. Their official last day is the 30th. Next week is going to be crazy because Brian and I are heading to New York on Sunday (my bday!) and won’t be home until Wednesday- so right before their last day of school. It’s my first time to NYC so any and all recs (food, shopping, etc.) are welcomed!

I had zero ideas for dinner tonight, so I searched through my food/recipes folder on my phone- basically a million screenshots of stuff I want to try- and came across a Jen Hatmaker post from three years ago. She recommended glazing salmon with a thick honey mustard, topping with chopped pecans, and baking or grilling. Simple enough!

I used this Boar’s Head honey mustard, which is super thick and perfect for this recipe. I also mixed the chopped pecans with some fresh parsley- still loving my Gardenuity herb garden!

I bought frozen wild salmon filets from Target, thawed and patted dry, then placed them on a baking sheet (coated with nonstick spray). Sprinkled with salt and pepper, a thick layer of the honey mustard, then the chopped pecans.

That one on the left was Jack’s- he is not a pecan fan, and apparently not honey mustard either. I drizzled some Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki on his.

Baked at 400 for 10 minutes, then broiled for a minute or two. Next time I’ll toast the pecans beforehand.

Served with roasted potatoes (with fresh rosemary!):

Also my FAVE summer salad: butter lettuce, thinly-sliced red onion, strawberries, avocado, blue cheese, glazed pecans and poppy seed dressing. It’s THE BEST.

This fish is going into the regular rotation! It was so simple but felt fancy (for a Tuesday), and honestly you can’t beat a 10 minute meal.

Happy Tuesday!

Posted in May 2019 | 1 Comment

Sheet Pan Dinner

Last night Isla had a 7pm soccer game, and I needed a super quick and easy dinner to throw together beforehand (rather than an 8:30 dinner). We had a package of Trader Joe’s garlic herb chicken sausage in the fridge, so Pinterest to the rescue and I found this recipe for sausage, potato and broccoli sheet pan supper. I don’t know why I don’t make more sheet pan dinners. They’re so easy and I can use up whatever rando veggies and proteins that happen to be hanging out in the fridge.

My only issue with this recipe is that the sauce/marinade is SUPER salty. Next time I’ll cut back on the coconut aminos and salt. But the flavor was good and we had all of the sauce components on hand.

Per the recipe, I cooked the red potatoes by themselves for about 10 minutes before adding the sausage and broccoli. I ended up roasting everything together for a lot longer than the recipe indicated. I wanted the broccoli nice and charred and the sausage a little crispy.

Perfect weeknight meal! Not the prettiest, but Jack cleaned his plate (boy loves his roasted broccoli) and I didn’t even have to make any sides. Win win!

Isla had another soccer game tonight, Jack went sailing with his Boy Scout den, and tomorrow AM we have the first grade play. May is cray, y’all.

Posted in May 2019 | Leave a comment

Mother’s Day 2019

I’m so sad that this weekend is over! It was pretty much ideal- we got a date night, saw live music, had fun with the kids, relaxed, spent time with family. All my favorite things!

Brian received tickets to Kaaboo Fest, a music festival at Cowboys Stadium, through a work contact. We ended up going on Friday evening while the kids spent the night with my parents.

The whole lineup was amazing! It was a 3-day event, and Friday featured the Old 97′s, Joan Jett, Blue October, Lauryn Hill, Bush, Alanis Morisette, Lionel Richie, The Killers, Ludacris, and probably more that I can’t remember. We showed up in the middle of the Old 97′s set (our faves!), then caught some of Bush, Joan Jett, all of Alanis and then The Killers. The Killers were AMAZING. I used to listen to them way back in college and right after graduating but hadn’t really kept up with anything since. They put on such a great show- Brian and I have both been listening to them since Friday. It was just a cool experience. The festival wasn’t super crowded (at least that night) and we were able to get pretty close to the stage for every artist.

(That was during Alanis- she was like 8 months pregnant and running around onstage like it was nothing!)

Saturday was pretty low key, then on Sunday we met my parents for Mother’s Day brunch at Mesero.

Brian set everything up, so major points to him for that and also for the coffee, flowers and sweet Mother’s Day gifts. After brunch I made a solo Target run (which is really a gift in itself, let’s be honest), we took the kids on a walk, grabbed dinner at Hopdoddy, then had dessert at my parents’ house. Perfect day!

Posted in May 2019 | Leave a comment