Winner Dinner

I had another chill/productive day at home. All beds are made, all laundry is done (folded, NOT put away… don’t get crazy), and I sent out some emails that I’d been putting off. My neck is finally starting to feel better too, knock on wood. It’s definitely not in my nature to stay home all day but it does feel great to catch up on stuff here. Still haven’t tackled the toy situation though…

Dinner tonight was a keeper!! Someone posted this recipe for Italian mac and cheese on a meal planning Facebook page and said that it was a hit with their family. It sounded easy and right up Jack’s alley- pasta, italian sausage, cheese and sauce.


I altered it a little by using an entire 14.5 oz box of pasta (Barilla ProteinPlus, my fave for the kids) instead of 10 oz. To compensate I upped the marinara sauce to 3 cups, added a 1/2 cup more mozzarella (so 1.5 cups total) and a splash more half and half. Oh and as usual I used turkey Italian sausage instead of pork.

It was SO GOOD. I mean, not the healthiest recipe, but it does have a decent amount of veggies… and I tried to make it a *little* better by using 2% cheese, along with the turkey sausage and high protein/high fiber pasta. Next time I might add mushrooms and maybe some diced carrots and celery.

Also it makes a ton. We have so much left over… Jack may be getting this for lunch tomorrow. And dinner on Thursday.

Posted in November 2017 | Leave a comment

Instant Pot Chicken Tacos

I skipped the gym today because my neck is still killing me. I literally did not leave the house until school pick up time and got SO MUCH DONE. Cleaned the kitchen, emptied/filled dishwasher, changed all of our sheets, cleaned both kids’ rooms, cleaned Isla’s disaster of a closet, did 3 loads of laundry, cleared out my car… honestly I probably would have been better off just going to the gym rather than “resting” here.

My next project is to clean out alllllllll the toys. I can’t even tell you how many Shopkins and various tiny shit I picked up off the floor today. And don’t even get me started on Pokemon cards.

For dinner tonight I made a chicken taco recipe that I found via glutensnob on Instagram. I’ve made something similar to this before in the crock pot, but this one was in the Instant Pot and a little different.

Ingredients (not pictured: a block of reduced-fat cream cheese… also just FYI, Trader Joe’s cream cheese is gross- learn from my mistake and go for the Philadelphia)

You place 4 frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of the Instant Pot. Then dump in 1 can (drained, rinsed) black beans, 1 can (drained) corn, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 can of diced green chiles, and a packet of taco seasoning. Stir together, then place the lid on the Instant Pot, set to “seal” and cook on manual for 20 minutes. Once the timer goes off, release the pressure and remove the chicken breasts. Set Instant Pot to “saute” mode and add block of cream cheese. While the cream cheese is melting, shred the chicken breasts, then add them back to the Instant Pot. Mine was a little too watery so I cooked on saute mode for about 10 minutes to thicken it up.  OH and I also squeezed in the juice of one lime.

**Note- you could easily do this in the crock pot, too. Just cook the chicken and canned ingredients (and taco seasoning) on high for 4 hrs or low for 8. Then add the cream cheese at the very end and let it heat through.**

While the chicken mixture was simmering, I cooked up some Tortilla Land flour tortillas on the stove. I bought a giant bag of them from Costco… seriously, like 50 tortillas. And they expire next week. Whoops. But the kids love them, they are easy to prepare (30 seconds per side in a hot skillet) and taste way better than precooked tortillas.

Spooned the chicken mixture on tortillas and called it dinner, along with a Trader Joe’s Southwest salad that I doctored up with tomatoes, avocados and tortilla chips.

Pretty good! We have a lot of chicken left so I may do burrito bowls or something later this week.

Posted in November 2017 | Leave a comment

Weekend Recap

It was another wild weekend! I’m pretty sure that’s going to be the theme between now and the end of the year… SO much on the calendar. This weekend we had Isla’s last soccer game. I’m sad that the season is over because it really seemed to click with her over the  past couple of weeks. For the first several games she just kind of ran around and hugged her friends, but then last week she scored two goals and this weekend she scored one. All of a sudden she was totally into it.

Other highlights from the weekend: soccer practice was cancelled on Friday (too dark for our 5:30 practice) so we met my parents for dinner at Royal China. Then on Saturday we headed to our friends’ annual fried turkey party before soccer. Last night was pretty low key. I’ve had this weird neck pain since Friday afternoon. I’m not sure if it’s from the gym or what, but it’s keeping me up at night so I was ready for bed at like 9 on Saturday.

Isla was ecstatic when she got into the car after school on Friday because she found out that she’s the Star of the Week this coming week. That means she brings in this giant “all about me” poster tomorrow, and one of us (me, Brian or Jack- we’re still trying to decide) will come in to talk to the class on Thursday and bring them a treat. So the first half of today was spent working on the poster and her “turkey in disguise” project that’s due tomorrow. I feel like everyone I know was busy disguising a turkey this weekend.

Then late this afternoon we had family portraits taken downtown. Isla and I went to battle over her hair. She was furious that I made her wear a bow. Apparently I’m the meanest mom ever.

That’s her “I want to cut you” face.

Speaking of, you know what you need after family portraits?? A margarita.

We’ve been trying to eat at this new tex-mex restaurant not far from our house, El Vecino, but every time we try to go there’s a 40 minute wait. We finished our pics around 4 and decided to head there for a late lunch/early dinner to try and beat the crowd. I had a combo with 2 enchiladas (chicken with sour cream sauce, and beef with chile con carne) and a crispy chicken taco:

I liked it! The price point is good, and both kids loved their food too. Apparently they have a chile relleno special on Tuesday nights (and an enchilada special on Wednesdays) so I have a feeling we’ll be there again soon!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Posted in November 2017 | Leave a comment

Mid-Week Break

I can’t believe tomorrow is Friday! It’s been a crazy week. The kids had a half day yesterday and were off ALL day today for conferences. It’s so fun having them home but I’m out of practice on entertaining those two all day (and trying to get errands done with them)- Mama is tired! Tomorrow they go back to school for one day and then it’s the weekend. Such a weird schedule.

I think the kids *sort of* missed me while I was gone last weekend, but this one seems the most excited to have me back. She’s been stuck to me like glue all week:

Jack’s conference was last night. They were running behind so we entertained ourselves by reading all of the “Blessings” essays in the hall. Some of them were hilarious- thankful for pugs (me too!), turkey legs, water, and “the smell of rosemary in the breeze.” Jack’s was sweet… and strategic, lol.

Both conferences went well! They basically reiterated what we already know- Jack is happy & easygoing, Isla is social and has zero trouble speaking her mind. Yes and yes.

That’s all I’ve got! We have another busy weekend ahead: last soccer game of the season for Isla, a friendsgiving party and then family pics on Sunday. I booked the pics YESTERDAY and have zero clue what we’re going to wear.

Have a great weekend!

Posted in November 2017 | Leave a comment

Santa Fe Girls Weekend

After a FUN girls’ weekend in Santa Fe, I’m gradually getting back into the routine. Not going to lie- it’s a little painful. I could have used a few more days of that gorgeous weather, mountain views and time with my favorite gals.

We flew in on Friday morning and spent the day wandering around downtown Santa Fe. We grabbed lunch at Cafe Pasqual’s (SO good), toured the Loretto Chapel, and had a drink at the Bell Tower Bar at the La Fonda Hotel. After that we headed back to our hotel (Hotel Santa Fe) to get ready for dinner. We opted to do our nicer dinner on Friday night at Coyote Cafe. The food was great!

We literally spent all day Saturday on a New Mexico wine tour. It was so much fun!! We had a shuttle that took us to three different wineries/tasting rooms, provided snacks and lunch, and even let us stop in Dixon for the art studio tours. We started at the Gruet tasting room in the Hotel St. Francis for a sparkling wine tasting (my fave, obviously), followed by Vivac Winery and ended at Black Mesa. New Mexico has great wine- who knew?!

On Saturday night we headed to El Farol for dinner. It’s the oldest restaurant in Santa Fe and features tapas and live music/flamenco dancers. The food was amazing (we split paella and a few tapas) and it’s definitely a fun place. The owner was kind of a jerk to us though. We were seated in a room just off the main flamenco room, and when we tried to peek through the (open) doorway to watch the dancers for a second (which our waitress said was fine), he immediately yelled at us to go sit down because “people have paid money to watch these dancers!!” Ugh. But the food was great and our server was really sweet.

Paella!! Look at those giant shrimp. It also had Spanish chorizo (my fave!), squid, chicken, mussels and scallops.

On Sunday we visited Meow Wolf, and I really have no words for that experience. It was CRAZY. It’s this huge interactive art installation that’s basically like a giant fun house. The fridge, dryer and fireplace are secret passageways, there’s a working arcade, a hanging school bus and a tree house. I feel like I can’t properly describe it- but if you’re ever in Santa Fe, you must check this place out.

Whew, that’s all I’ve got! Actually I have a million more pics but I don’t want to completely bore you. Such a fun trip but it was good to get home and see my babies!

Posted in November 2017 | 1 Comment

All The Holidays

Well the rain held off and we had a great Halloween! We did our usual pumpkin-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy’s for dinner, then Brian and I took turns taking the kids trick or treating. They were PUMPED. After about an hour, Isla asked if she could just stay home and hand out candy… but Jack kept going ’til close to 8. Hard core.

Our school does a big All Saints Day celebration for 1st-3rd grades. The kids dress up as their favorite saint and do a project/report. It’s so cute and fun- but also, the day after Halloween. ANOTHER COSTUME. Luckily one of my sweet friends let us borrow their Saint Patrick costume from last year, so all we had to do was make a hat. Win!

How cute is he?

We stayed up way too late last night watching the last few episodes of Stranger Things and I was EXHAUSTED today. I blame Brian, though admittedly it was worth it… I think I may have loved season 2 even more than the first. Anyway, I was worthless today. Also the kids are wiped from all of the Halloween festivities, so I needed a super easy dinner that everyone would eat. Enter Instant Pot meatballs!

Actually Isla won’t eat meatballs, but she will eat noodles with butter. Sigh. Last time I used the kale & quinoa turkey meatballs from Target, but this time I grabbed the spinach and garlic flavor instead. Tossed them (frozen) into the Instant Pot, poured in a jar of marinara and 2 cans of drained mushrooms, and stirred it all together. Actually Isla did all of that. I was hoping that maybe if she helped make dinner then she would actually eat it… but no. Cooked on “stew” setting for 12 minutes. Let it naturally release for about 10 minutes, then did a quick release.

That’s all I’ve got! I was planning to go to bed at 9… buuuut it’s already almost 9:30 and I may go raid some candy buckets instead. Priorities.

Posted in October 2017 | Leave a comment

Pumpkin Dinner

In spite of the fact that it was 80 degrees today, I decided that it was a perfect night for chili! I probably should have waited until tomorrow (high of 57 and RAINY… not okay on Halloween), but since soccer practice was canceled I actually had the time to do it today. The recipe is an old favorite: Love & Olive Oil’s pumpkin turkey chili. I’ve made this stuff countless times. It’s FULL of veggies (onions, peppers, pumpkin, sweet potato, tomatoes) and comes together really quickly. I always substitute a bottle of beer for the chicken broth but otherwise stick to the recipe.


I chopped all of the veggies after I got home from the gym this morning- they’re in that freezer bag. Anything to make dinner prep easier!

I let it simmer on low for probably an hour, stirring every once in a while. Jack had his chili mac-style, mixed with elbow macaroni and topped with cheese. We had ours topped with (a lot of) Greek yogurt and cheese, and served with salad and blue corn chips.

Happy almost Halloween!!

Posted in October 2017 | Leave a comment

Halloween Eve Eve

Happy Halloween Eve Eve! We had quite the festive weekend and are READY for Tuesday. On Friday we took the kids to trunk or treat at the Knights of Columbus. This year Jack dressed up as Mario and Isla dressed up as Dorothy- I’m a big fan of both of these costumes (a nice break from our usual superhero/Star Wars or Disney princess!).

They ended up moving the event inside because it was pretty cold on Friday night, but the kids had a blast anyway. I think Isla and her best buddy/partner in crime Molly went around the room at least 10 times. I finally heard one lady tell her that she needed to make sure that there was enough candy for the other children- ha! Isla’s response? “Well my bucket’s not full yet.”

I need to take some assertiveness lessons from her.

On Saturday Isla had a FREEZING soccer game at 9, followed by Jack’s game at 10:30. Then we headed up their school for our fall Harvest Festival.

Cake walk… we didn’t win :(

We took it pretty easy this morning after go-go-going all day yesterday. This afternoon Brian took Jack to a skating party , so Isla and I had a little girl time and met my mom for pedicures:

(I was banished to the third chair so she could sit by Gia.)

It’s going to be another busy week! Halloween/school parties on Tuesday, Jack has a project due Wednesday, and I leave for a girls’ trip to Santa Fe (CAN’T WAIT) on Friday.

Catch y’all tomorrow…

Posted in October 2017 | Leave a comment

Pancake Party

It’s almost Friday! And it’s the weekend before Halloween… AND it’s supposed to get cold tonight! I’m pretty pumped. The cashier at Costco laughed at me today when he saw that I was stocking up on long underwear, coats and PJ’s for the kids. Hey, the forecast says 40 degrees for our 9am soccer game on Saturday! That’s frigid for us Texans.

We have a pretty full weekend ahead. Soccer games, trunk or treat, school carnival,  birthday party. Lots of fun stuff.

We had nothing going on after school today, so I surprised the kids with a trip to IHOP for their scary face pancakes. Of course my kids demanded to make the faces themselves, so the poor server had to bring out a plain pancake and then all of the accoutrements for decorating. He loved us.

So proud…

I planned on making a fancy fall kale salad for dinner tonight, but we ended up meeting friends at Shady’s before Jack’s cub scout meeting. SO the salad will have to wait.

Hope everyone has a fun weekend!

Posted in October 2017 | Leave a comment

Weekend Recap

Hey y’all! Sorry, my blog was freaking out last week. I tried to post on Thursday but SiteGround (blog host) put a limit on it due to overages on “program and script executions.” Seriously, I have no idea what this even means. And I tried to figure it out but I’m basically a dinosaur and understand nothing web-related. SO… apologies if you saw the error message! I’m back now!

The kids had a half day on Thursday and then were off all day on Friday, which was nice because we had a particularly busy weekend ahead. On Thursday we took the kids to the fair, and as soon as we arrived my mom texted to say that my dad was in the ER with a pulmonary embolism. He had knee replacement surgery about 3 weeks ago and it’s been a tough recovery. They went in for an appt with his surgeon on Thursday afternoon, and as soon as he mentioned having shortness of breath they sent him to the ER to get a lung x-ray. After finding blood clots in his lungs, he was admitted to the hospital and has been there since. The doctors have said that he may be there for another week while they try to get his levels regulated (to ensure no new clots). Needless to say my parents are tired and frustrated- they haven’t had the greatest experience with this hospital and the doctors there- so prayers are appreciated!

I’ll post state fair pics in another post. Here’s what I intended to write about on Thursday- a new meatloaf recipe! I loosely based it on this recipe but made a few alterations. I used a bag of frozen quinoa from Trader Joe’s that I just zapped in the microwave (ended up using about 1.5 cups cooked quinoa in the meatloaf) instead of cooking it on the stove from dry. Also I left out the hot sauce and added an additional egg. Instead of the glaze in the recipe, I made my own from equal parts ketchup and BBQ sauce, and added a Tbs or two of Worcestershire sauce to the glaze as well.

My very brown dinner… meatloaf, stuffed mushrooms (from Sprouts) and mashed cauliflower. I swear it tasted better than it looks!

Really loved the meatloaf!! It has great flavor, and the texture was perfect. I was nervous because it seemed pretty wet when I put it in the oven, but it firmed up and was delicious. I like that the quinoa gives it a little protein boost, too.

Ok off to gather uniforms, make lunches, etc. Hard to get back on schedule after these long weekends!

Posted in October 2017 | Leave a comment