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

Gardenuity

So apparently it’s just going to rain forever here. The kids had a half day today (because OF COURSE THEY DID), and naturally a torrential downpour started right when it was time to pick them up. And then kept monsoon-ing the entire way downtown to meet Brian for lunch. I actually love the storms… just at night when I’m in bed. Or when we’re camped out at home with nowhere to be.

You know what IS cool with all of this rain? My cute little herb garden!

My friend Cait (who I used to babysit, and who now has KIDS and a JOB, which makes me 100 years old…) works for a company called Gardenuity. They deliver edible, portable container gardens right to your door. I’ve tried my hand at herb gardens before and pretty much failed miserably, but I love the idea of not having to haul everyone to Trader Joe’s every time I need fresh basil. So when Cait contacted me about trying out a garden kit, I jumped at the opportunity.

A few days later a big box arrived at my door containing literally EVERYTHING you need to get your container garden started:

Planting container, herbs, soil, compost, spray bottle, little vials of mysterious plant nutrients (as well as more fertilizer and nutrients to use as a booster 30 days from now). For my herbs I received sweet basil, rosemary, dill, curly parsley, Thai basil and chocolate mint. The herbs arrived in perfect condition- I even waited a couple of days to plant them and they still looked like they did the day they arrived.

The entire planting process took less than an hour. You soak the coir tiles (which Dr. Google is telling me are made from coconut fibers) for about 30 minutes, then add them to the grow bag, followed by soil, fertilizer and finally plants. Then you spray the plants with the included nutrients… and that’s it!

I’ve already used the sweet basil on our broccoli-kale pizza the other night. The grow bag is right outside the kitchen window and the kids love checking out all of the herbs. I also love that it’s portable so you can move the garden around for more or less sunlight if needed.

So maybe this year I’ll finally keep something alive???

Anyway- very cool concept, and would make the perfect gift! I hear something is coming up on Sunday…? Or would be great for end of the year/teacher appreciation!

Posted in May 2019, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Broccoli Crust

I had such a fun weekend hanging out with this sweet guy:

We had dinner with my parents, visited the Perot museum (on Star Wars day!), had a movie night (The Sandlot- he LOVED it) and just hung out. He had three soccer games cancelled between Friday and Sunday so we had a lot of extra downtime. Brian and Isla had fun on their campout, too… though Brian was pretty much toast on Sunday.

I was digging through the freezer on Sunday night trying to figure something out for dinner, when I came across this broccoli & kale pizza crust buried in the back:

I think it was around 420 calories for the entire thing? You bake the crust, flip it, then bake for a few more minutes. The directions suggested broiling it after, but the edges were already starting to turn brown so I skipped that. I topped it with marinara, mozzarella, turkey pepperoni and fresh basil, then stuck it under the broiler until the cheese melted:

Verdict? Pretty darn good! You can definitely taste the broccoli, but in a good way (if you like broccoli, obviously). I like this better than the TJ’s cauliflower crust! Not a bad option to have on hand- and hopefully to keep me out of the kids’ pizza.

Posted in May 2019 | Leave a comment

Wacky Wednesday

Isla is having a BIG week. Recital on Sunday, camp out this weekend, and I don’t think she could have crammed one more activity into her day yesterday. We had Muffins with Mom at school in the morning, then I helped chaperone her field trip to Safety Town in Frisco. It’s really cute- basically a miniature “town” with buildings and roads with stoplights, one-way streets, stop signs and cross walks. Half of the class drove Jeeps (and learned to follow traffic rules) while the other half were the pedestrians. Then they switched. So the chaperones were responsible for making sure that no one ran red lights, jay walked, or did this:

It was rough going at first but she eventually got it!

Cuties. I love her class.

At our school auction back in February, we signed Isla up for a one day cheerleading clinic taught by a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader (who also happens to be one of our substitute teachers- Jack’s favorite sub, lol). The clinic was right after school on Wednesday and they learned the cutest cheer and dance!

So after THAT she had a soccer game (and scored one goal and one assist!), then I left the kids with Brian and headed to book club. Wine was necessary after that crazy day.

Ok on the food front, I made a big casserole the other day that we’ve been eating for dinner the past couple of nights: Buffalo Chicken & Rice.

It’s nice because you don’t have to prepare the chicken ahead of time- it cooks with the rice in the oven. I used 4 Tbs of Frank’s buffalo sauce and it wasn’t too spicy. Oh and I also sprinkled some cheddar cheese on top before baking.

Served topped with green onions and a drizzle of blue cheese dressing:

This makes a big pan, so it would be a good one to make for dinner and then take for lunch later in the week. It reheated really well, too.

Ready for the weekend! I’m looking forward to hanging out with Jack- and maybe he’ll even get to play a soccer game?? Fingers crossed that the rain holds off for a change.

Posted in May 2019 | Leave a comment