Jack Is Seven!

Well my sweet baby boy is officially SEVEN! How did that happen?! He had an awesome birthday today- presents and pancakes this morning, took cupcakes to school (And got to use the homework stamp! Apparently quite an honor, haha), went with Gia to Dave & Buster’s while I took Isla to ballet, then chose where we ate dinner (Chip’s). It’s good to be seven!

I usually post a letter on his birthday, but he and Isla have had so much fun watching her old birthday slideshows lately that I decided to make one for him, too. So here you go- the past year o’ Happy Jack.

Posted in December 2016, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Instant Pot Chicken Soup

I feel like it’s been a non-stop pig out around here since Thanksgiving. We ate wayyy too much takeout over the weekend, enjoyed a few beverages, then last night had pizza and cake for an early family birthday celebration for Jack. Obviously the parties don’t really stop come December, so I needed some veggies in my life. Enter this crazy easy chicken and vegetable soup! I know a bunch of people bought Instant Pots on Black Friday, and this is the perfect starter recipe. Quick and basically foolproof.

I modified this from a post on one of the Instant Pot Facebook pages I follow. Yes PAGES. I’m a freak, but they all have really good recipes.

Here’s what I did…

Easy Chicken Vegetable Soup

Just layer the following ingredients in your Instant Pot:

  • 1 bag shredded cabbage
  • 1 can green beans, drained
  • 2 bell peppers, roughly diced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 can mushrooms, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 3 raw chicken breasts, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • Seasoning: Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder- whatever you like.

Give the pot a stir, then set on manual for 15 minutes. It took a while (20 min?) to come to pressure because the pot was so full. Once the timer went off I did a quick release, but I threw a dishtowel loosely over the top so it wouldn’t spew soup all over the kitchen.

Voila:

Once it was cooked, I seasoned to taste with more seasoned salt, garlic & onion powder, and a few splashes of Worcestershire. I topped mine with a little grated parmesan, too.

This soup would be perfect to have on hand for lunches and light dinners during the week. I’m going to make another big batch on Sunday. It’s suuuuper filling and really versatile- you could always sub rotel for the diced tomatoes, or add pasta, basil and beans for a minestrone.

So Jack turns SEVEN tomorrow!! How is that possible?? I told him that I was too young to have a seven year old, and he goes, “I’ve seen younger.”

Did I mention he also pointed out all my gray hairs at school pickup on Monday? Apparently he doesn’t know who buys the presents around here.

Official birthday post tomorrow!

Posted in November 2016 | Leave a comment

Cheeseburger Salad

Not going to lie, we’ve had a rough time getting back into the ol’ school routine after an entire week off. Isla flat out refused to go to bed last night. She ended up in my bed at some point during the night, then spent the next few hours kicking the crap out of me until my alarm went off at 6. GOOD TIMES. And now getting Jack to sit down and focus on homework is like pulling teeth. I think we ALL need an early bedtime tonight.

I bookmarked this recipe for cheeseburger salad a while back, and for some reason it just occurred to me to make it tonight. Cheeseburger salad sounds weird, but really it’s not all that different from getting your burger protein-style at In N Out. There’s a restaurant in Dallas that offers a burger salad and I LOVE it- lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, avocado, cheese, BACON, topped with a burger patty. This salad might be even better (though it’s missing the bacon) because of the homemade dressing.

Butter lettuce, grape tomatoes, avocado, shredded cheddar, sliced pickles and a turkey patty. I topped mine with sliced banana peppers, too. Also- this is so sad- I grilled a bunch of purple onions to put on top and completely forgot about them.

So good! And we have leftover turkey burgers, too, so this will be an easy lunch to throw together tomorrow.

Off to work with Jack on his lines for the Christmas program… which apparently he needs to have memorized by WEDNESDAY. Eeeek. Later kids.

Posted in November 2016 | Leave a comment

Holiday Home Tour 2016

I’m a little sad to ship my babies back to school tomorrow. It’s been such a fun, relaxing week with them home… only a few more weeks until Christmas break!

We had a great Thanksgiving. Lots of family time, relaxing, movies, eating and playing. On Thursday we headed to my parents’ house for lunch and spent the rest of the day lounging over there. My parents took the kids for a few hours on Friday so that Brian and I could get some shopping done- we ended up with a new (fake) Christmas tree and some gifts for the kids. Jack’s birthday is on Thursday so we were on a b-day gift mission too. Yesterday we took the kids to the farmers market for brunch at Mudhen and then wandered around for a while. Jack and Isla made sure to pet every. single. dog there, and we walked out with three jars of pickles (typical) and some zip code honey.

Can I tell you how happy I am that our house is totally decorated- inside & out- for Christmas?? We’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks, and this weekend we finally put up the tree and finished the outside lights. This is NOT normal for us. December is a crazy month for us (and everyone else, obviously) with birthdays, school activities, holiday parties, etc., and this year I’m trying really hard to get everything done early so we can fully enjoy the season. Anyway, here are a few pics- I like to share them on the blog so I can look back next year and actually remember what we did, ha ha.

Family room with the inevitable Chloe photo bomb.

That basket to the right of the fireplace holds all of our Christmas books. I used to individually wrap them and have the kids open one to read each night until Christmas Eve, but wrapping that many books is a giant pain in the butt. Maybe next year, kids!

Love these little sparkly cotton stems.

Kitchen. I need to find a 2016 frame for this year’s Santa photo!

My favorite spot in the whole house, for obvious reasons… #coffeecoffeecoffee

Entry. sorry it’s so dim in here! I love my 2 new additions this year- the string art snowflake (Hobby Lobby) and the magnolia wreath (Target).

Dining room. This room is a major work in progress. We got that bench for a steal this summer at a shop near the lake house and have yet to find a good spot for it!! I just threw some dollar spot pillows on it for the holidays. My mom gave us the runner after Christmas last year (I think from Wisteria?) so I was excited to be able to get to use it.

The kids have cute little trees in their rooms, too, but I forgot to take pics before they went to bed. I’ll try to remember to snap one tomorrow.

Thanks for letting me share! Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving break!

Posted in November 2016 | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Eve

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!! I spent this afternoon baking cranberry bars and sweet potato casserole. Tomorrow we head to my mom and dad’s for lunch, and I’ve already laid out my good stretchy pants.

This week is flying! I took the kids to see Trolls yesterday. What does it say about my life that we’ve been jamming out to the Trolls soundtrack for the past 24 hours? But seriously, it’s a great movie and not a total beat down like 99% of what my kids watch (Pokemon, god help me). Today we met up with friends at the Arboretum and then met my parents for lunch downtown. We are all loving this whole “no school, sleeping late, no homework” routine.

Last night I pulled out the Instant Pot to make this Korean beef from Cookies and Cups. I swear I’ve made this before, but I searched the blog and couldn’t find any record of it..? Weird.

Ingredients:

The only drag about this recipe is that you have to cube the beef and brown it in batches. That part took a little while because I didn’t want to crowd the pot. But once the meat is browned, it’s super simple. You just put all of the ingredients in the Instant Pot (soy sauce, beef broth, ginger, garlic, diced apple and OJ) with the beef and cook on manual for 45 minutes. The directions said to shred the beef, but we just left ours cubed and served over rice, along with marinated cucumbers.

I really want to just curl up on the couch with wine, magazines and a cheesy holiday movie right now. Hope everyone has a fabulous Thanksgiving!

(Oh and if anyone needs a good read over the break, I’m 75% of the way through Brain on Fire by Susan Cahalan, and it is REALLY good, especially if you’re into psychology or medical mysteries. Can’t put it down.)

Posted in November 2016 | Leave a comment

Staycation

So my kids are out of school for A WHOLE WEEK! Which is good because no hectic mornings or uniforms to wash, and bad because I actually have to take my children to the grocery store. The cashier at Trader Joe’s told me today that working there has made him, “Happy that I don’t have children and won’t for a long, long time.”

At first I was offended, but then I looked over to see Isla trying to literally climb over the counter to get to the bucket of suckers and Jack begging me to buy him Mini Altoids for the 5 MILLIONTH TIME FOR THE LOVE OF GOD and was like OK FAIR ENOUGH.

I did miss those little angels this weekend, though. From Friday afternoon through Sunday AM I had a girls’ weekend/staycation downtown. We stayed at The Ritz, went out Friday night, had a fabulous brunch at Mudhen Meat & Greens on Saturday, shopped, got manis/pedis, grabbed Shake Shack for dinner, played Cards Against Humanity in our PJ’s, were in bed by 10pm Saturday night, room service breakfast on Sunday, then home. AMAZING.

A *few* pics from the weekend.

Mamas gone wild on Friday. We had on crowns to celebrate our friend Angie’s birthday:

At brunch on Monday #madforplaid

Shake Shack!

I was having too much fun and forgot to take more pics, but it was the perfect way to kick off the holiday week! Love all of those sweet mamas!

Posted in November 2016 | Leave a comment

Colonial Day Craziness

Well y’all have convinced me that I need to give roasted frozen broccoli another shot!! I’ll attempt round 2 next week and report back.

The last part of this week has felt CRAZY. Jack’s class has a Colonial Day festival tomorrow, and a group of us first grade moms spent all Sunday afternoon and all last night making freaking corn husk dolls and dipping candles. I volunteered for snack duty too, so I have 4 gallons of apple cider and a massive tray of corn bread (Boston Market was around in colonial times, yes?) ready to go. Have I mentioned that Jack has no idea that Colonial Day even exists? I asked him about it last week and he just gave me a blank stare. That’s ok, I’m sure he’ll treasure his corn husk doll forever… even though it definitely looks like something straight out of the Blair Witch Project.

ALSO Isla has her class Thanksgiving feast tomorrow, and since I’m a room mom I’m helping set up and serve. Her teacher lets the kids pick the menu (which is always hilarious), and though I pushed for apple slices, Isla volunteered us for pumpkin pie. Sigh. How many 4 year olds are going to eat pumpkin pie? Not mine, that’s for sure. Anyway, Trader Joe’s to the rescue yet again- check out these adorable mini pumpkin pies from the freezer case!!

So cute! And no slicing!

I’m leaving for a girls’ weekend/staycation tomorrow, and since I’m going to be at school all day I need to go pack. Have a great weekend!

Posted in November 2016 | Leave a comment

The Great Broccoli Experiment

Tonight’s dinner was kind of an experiment. I’d read on two different blogs recently that you can roast frozen broccoli and it will turn out the same as roasted fresh broccoli. That would be kind of a game changer because I could just buy the giant bag of frozen florets at Costco and have roasted broccoli for ALL THE MEALS.

Stupid me, though- I only had broccoli CUTS in the freezer, not florets. Oh well. I spread the frozen broccoli on a sheet pan (and broke up some of the stuck-together pieces), drizzled some olive oil over the top, sprinkled with salt/pepper/garlic powder, and put in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Pre-roasting.

Post roasting (plus lemon juice and grated parm).

Hmm. Sorry but NOT the same as roasted fresh broccoli. I think the moisture in the frozen veggies causes them to steam more that roast. With fresh broccoli I always pat it really dry before roasting so that it gets really brown. These tasted ok but I missed the crispiness. Oh well, I guess this would still be good in a pinch??

For the rest of our dinner I made a batch of Instant Pot mac and cheese (so easy it’s crazy) and sliders made from Hawaiian buns and this TJ’s BBQ chicken:

Ok off to watch This Is Us! Night!

This was our first time trying the chicken. It was ok but next time I’ll make my own. It’s too easy to cook chicken in the IP or slow cooker and then just shred and stir in my fave BBQ sauce (Stubb’s!).

Posted in November 2016 | 2 Comments

Instant Pot Goulash and Temporary Insanity

I haven’t pulled out the old Instant Pot in a while and she was looking pretty lonely. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m reeeeeeally trying to only cook one dinner at night, so tasty yet kid-friendly recipes are key. While flipping through my phone today I stumbled across a screenshot of a recipe for Bobby Deen’s goulash modified for the pressure cooker. Win! The only problem is that I have literally no idea where it came from. I’ve googled and searched and found nothing.

Ingredients (not pictured: frozen corn and a diced onion):

You just saute onion and garlic in the Instant Pot, then add the ground beef and brown. It was pretty lean (93% lean) but I still drained the fat once the meat was browned. Add 2 cups of water, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 can tomato sauce, spices (Italian seasoning, seasoned salt, bay leaf) and soy sauce. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and cook on manual for 5 minutes. Do a pressure quick release and stir in the corn (putting the pot on Saute mode for a few minutes).

Pretty darn good! Jack loved it and pretty much cleaned his plate. Isla wouldn’t touch it and ate bread and strawberries. I’m trying the whole “YOU WILL EAT WHAT WE’RE HAVING” technique with her and we’ll see who holds out the longest.

I had a moment of insanity this weekend and insisted that we put up all indoor Christmas decor (minus the tree). I have a girls’ weekend coming up this weekend, next is Thanksgiving weekend, the following weekend is Jack’s bday… basically I just wanted to get it done before things got crazy. So that’s what we did yesterday. Brian hauled ALL of my holiday bins out of the attic, bless his heart. And now they’re sitting in our entryway, spilling Christmas cheer and GLITTER everywhere. But I’m probably 70% finished decorating and I kind of love it.

I’ll post more pics when it’s allllll done.

Posted in November 2016 | Leave a comment

What A Week

I feel like it’s been a rough week, yes? (Understatement of the century!) Anyone else ready for the weekend?

All of the election drama, Brian’s been working late, Isla threw at LEAST 10 tantrums between pickup and dinner today… and then tonight I finally get the kids fed, assemble my really delicious turkey taco salad:

Sit down at the table to eat, when Jack looks up at me with huge eyes, takes off running for the bathroom, and throws up everywhere.

Poor guy. He was so upset. I feel especially horrible because right before that he was refusing to eat his dinner and kept saying that “something is scratching my throat.” I thought he just wanted to go watch American Ninja Warrior and made some jerk comment about how he either had to finish his dinner or go straight to bed.

Ugh. Anyway, no fever and he seems fine now, so I don’t know if it was something he ate or what. He’s pounding saltines and chugging ginger ale like it’s going out of style, so fingers crossed that whatever it was has passed.

On to happier things! Last night was November book club. This month we read The Life We Bury and I LOVED it. I also loved my cute little wine glass marker, Brad:

I usually bring something sweet but had been wanting to try this baked crab & artichoke dip for a while. The recipe calls for 2 cups of lump crab, but I used a big can of crab claw meat that I found in the seafood section of Trader Joe’s and it worked perfectly. You blend together cream cheese and mayo, then stir in crab meat, garlic, green onions, parmesan and chopped artichoke hearts. I added lemon juice as well. Spread in a pie pan, top with crumbled Ritz crackers and bake:

It’s such a good, cheesy fall dip!

I’ve been going to bed wayyyy to late this week, so hoping to change that tonight. But let’s be honest, I’ll probably be up until midnight reading blogs and watching something worthless on TV. Have a great weekend!

Posted in November 2016 | Leave a comment