Sunday, January 30, 2011

making lemonade

Blah. I'm sick. ick. Normally I would't stop to tell anyone about this, but I'm rather pleased with how I've chosen to spend this sick day.
I can't muster the energy to do anything very productive, which makes me feel like a slacker.
So ... I used a pumice on my feet in the shower, and I have Bert's Bees coconut foot balm on my tootsies, covered in cozy socks so it soaks in nicely.
My hair is covered in Bert's Bees Avocado Butter hair treatment, wrapped in a chamois.

And I'm partway through a desperately needed manicure.
Fortunately for me, the kids are perfectly content with a quiet day today after playing all day yesterday with my parents.
I'm hoping that by completely taking it easy today, I can be raring to go by tomorrow. I have a busy week of churning out marketing plans, meeting with partners, meeting new people, and turning 40 on Thursday.
Oh! Speaking of 40, as long as I'm taking a down day, I should go see what rejuvenating skin treatments I have on hand. I certainly don't want to approach 40 with bad skin.
Yours in future good health,

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I ate well today, right up until that brownie sundae

I'm trying to eat more vegetables with every meal, which can be a little tricky at breakfast. On workdays, I don't even bother trying, relying on coffee, protein and EmergenC to get me through the morning.
Today, however, I had time and vegetables on my hands, so I made a breakfast stir fry.

I used a wok, so less oil was needed.
Spray wok with spray oil, then sauté:
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, sliced very thin
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 cup broccoli florets, bite-size

Once veggies have softened a bit, add the following to create a sauce:
2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
2-3 squirts of fish sauce
couple dashes of soy sauce
1 tsp of sesame oil
squirt of sriracha

Break two eggs into the pan and stir around until just cooked.
Serve with chile garlic sauce.
It was awesome! The tiny bit of sesame oil really made a difference, and I enjoyed every bite. The egg mixed in gave it some protein and reminded me of egg foo young. Tasty!

We went to my brother & sister-in-law's house for dinner, and I was in charge of the salad. I wouldn't usually record a salad, because I'm a firm believer in throwing together whatever looks good at the time. But this one got such rave reviews, it seemed worth noting.

Baby mixed greens ~ enough for 5 adults
1 cup salted agave almonds {see below}
crumbled bleu cheese, about 1/3 cup but I didn't measure ~ so whatever looks right
broiled pancetta {see below}
Litehouse Tangy Orange Citrus vinaigrette

On the dressing: I'm kind of a dressing snob. I would much rather make my own than buy one. But this one is tasty and low-cal, so I went for it. It works especially well with the bleu cheese. Once I assembled all the ingredients, I very lightly tossed in some dressing. Not a heavy hand with the dressing in the least.

{salted agave almonds}
Toast almond slivers in a skillet over medium-high heat until they start to brown slightly.
1 tsp butter
1 Tbsp agave nectar
Several pinches of coarse sea salt
Continue to stir over medium heat until the almonds are nice and toasty, and golden to deep-golden brown.
Cool on paper towels. Add a bit more salt if desired. {I usually desire more salt, and it's delightful against the agave nectar}

{broiled pancetta}
Lay 6 pancetta slices on a cookie sheet. I put them on a silpat.
Broil on high for 3-4 minutes, until pancetta is bubbling. Flip each piece over, and broil a few more minutes until the edges just start to brown.
Cool on a paper towel, then crumble into salad.

Jeff & Jeanie served perfectly grilled chicken breasts (I had half of one to keep my portion size under control), grilled asparagus and roasted potatoes. Jeanie did exactly what I like to do with the potatoes: cube 'em, olive oil, s&p. She also used oregano, which was lovely. Perfecto. I had to have seconds.

Where I got into trouble was dessert. My brother made brownies, but he did something really interesting. He used a brownie mix that would normally go in a 9x9" pan, but put it in a 9x13" pan. Then he drizzled chocolate sauce all over that and added another prepared mix. It was fairly awesome by itself, but then they served it as sundaes ~ complete with toasted nuts & caramel sauce. My downfall. I usually don't have too much trouble turning down dessert. But double chocolate brownies with ice cream, toasted nuts and CARAMEL? How could I resist? I'll just have to eat more veggies with breakfast, and maybe do a little more running this coming week!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Intrusion of Leo

Well, we had quite the adventure last night!
As I walked in the door, I noticed that Girlchild looked a little shell-shocked.
She was sitting on a chair in the dining room with her feet pulled up around her.
Brian and the Boy were upstairs with Jack, but they came down when they heard me come home.
I asked Girlchild how she was doing, and she replied,
"Well, I just saw an amee-al (that's how she pronounces "animal") that was all white and not a kitty.
It's in our house."

I was only half-paying attention because I was busy unloading the groceries to make dinner
{bad mama, not paying attention!}, but asked her what she meant.
She has a vivid imagination ~ that's my excuse for not taking her seriously at first.
Fortunately, Brian had come down by then and heard her describing where she had seen it.
I finally clued in that she really had seen an animal in our house.
I asked her if it was a mouse.

"No, it was too big to be a mouse."
She held up her hands and showed us the size of a large rat.

"How big was the tail?" I asked.
She indicated a bit longer tail.
Brian and I looked at each other and both silently mouthed, "Oh shit. A rat!"
I sighed and went upstairs to change out of my work clothes.
I can't deal with a giant rat in 4" heels.

I walked into my bedroom, pulling off clothes as I did.
I heard a little scurry and scratch...
and a ferret ran across the floor in front of me, and dove under my bed.

I screamed... because you know, vicious ferret... slammed the door and found myself standing in the hallway, half naked.


He fortunately remembered seeing a poster in the neighborhood for a missing ferret,
so he went to find it and call them. We figured they would be able to catch it.
I certainly had no intention of trying to catch it!

But wait... I realized that strangers were coming to my bedroom to catch up their ferret,
and I wasn't wearing clothes. I'd have to go back in and face the rodent.
I quickly found jammies (not my first choice for meeting people, but this was hardly a social visit, so whatever).
Just then the Boy came in, wanting to see the parrot.

"No, honey, it's not a parrot. It's a ferret."
"Where is the pare... fare... ferret?" He asked, "I want to see it." My brave little guy.

We looked under the bed, and there it was. It saw us peering under the bed skirt, and came running at us. Boy said, "Wow!" just as the ferret jumped in my lap. I didn't even have time to react, because Just Jack the wonder puppy came in. I didn't want Jack to have a new chew toy at that moment, so I grabbed up the ferret and we all went downstairs just as Brian came back home.
That little ferret was so snuggly! I put him in a cat carrier to keep him from running away or running in to Jack or a kitty. Less than 2 minutes later, the owners showed up, so incredibly relieved.
Actually, they were a little distressed to see him in the cat carrier. The woman gasped,
"OH NO! He's in a cage?!?"
I was a little taken aback ~ it's just a cat carrier ~ and explained that I didn't want the puppy to get him. She says, "Oh, he's fine with dogs. We have two dogs at our house."
Lady, I'm not worried about what your little ferret will do to my dog. I didn't want my overly exuberant puppy to "remove the squeaker," so to speak.
Anyway, they were very grateful to get him back. Apparently, one of their daughters was so distraught over "Leo" being gone that she hadn't been able to go to school and had burst blood vessels all around her eyes from crying so hard. Poor little thing.
Brian asked them how long Leo had been missing, because he had seen the "Missing" posters before Christmas.
"This is his third time escaping," they explained. 
Hmmm. Maybe you should consider some sort of containment device...

Oh, and in other news... perhaps it's time for me to cut the Boy's hair. The woman complimented him on his pretty hair, saying she was trying to convince her daughter to get the same haircut.
In her defense, he was wearing pink Hello Kitty slippers.
The boy and his pretty hair.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Princess Tea Party

Girlchild was invited to a tea party Saturday at a friend's house. A "School Mate" as she says.

When Brian first told her of the invitation, her response was serious and direct.
"I want to do that," she declared.

She already also had a girlfriend play date set up for Sunday, so to make sure the Boy didn't feel left out, we arranged for him to spend time with my parents this weekend.

Anna was so excited about the tea party, she immediately started asking me about it as soon as we got up Saturday morning. We figured out which dress she would wear, then she wanted to paint tea party pictures. We haven't painted much since summer, so I agreed.
{You know what's odd about the dress? It's the same one she wore to my mom's birthday tea party nearly two years ago. I think the girl has been mostly growing up rather than out.}

Here's the Girl working on her paintings:
 Notice my paintbrush water sitting so close to my coffee cup? Yeah, not a good idea.

Here are all of the tea party pictures:
 Tea pot, two tea cups, a cake and a flower scene. All painted solely by Anna, except the one cup:

 It's been a while since I've painted anything but botanicals, but I had fun with this little tea cup.

Here are the four girls sitting for their tea party. It was so adorable, the little hostess {who wore a Disney Cinderella dress, its should be noted} employed her daddy and little brother to be servers, they wore ties and had aprons tied around their waists, and even held tea towels draped over their forearms. So cute, what good sports.

 The girls had a spirited discussion about Halloween costumes:
It was a fun day, and Anna & I are already planning a reciprocal tea party.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I'm going to the gym, dangitanyway

I easily let myself be dissuaded from the strength training class at the gym today.
I was awake, so that wasn't a big deal. Awake and dressed, even.
As I was walking out the door, I realized I didn't have any car keys. They were both in Brian's pockets, apparently. So I grabbed the spare key and started the car, but look! The window is all frozen over!
I searched around for a window scraper and couldn't find one in the car anywhere. I know there is one in the Jetta, but of course I didn't have the key.
So I gave up.
I stomped back up to the house, half annoyed and half kind of grateful that I had an excuse not to go workout.
But guess what?
I was locked out of the house.
The spare key doesn't have a house key on it, and I had neglected to grab the house key.
So I had to make Brian come down and let me in.
Now, I'm sure you're realizing that if Brian is awake, I can get the Jetta key from him and go to the gym, right?
Wrong. I was too annoyed.
But wait... Twitter to the rescue!
I had posted at 5:15 a.m. that I wasn't sure if I should go to the class or not.
While I was sitting here drinking my coffee and NOT going to the gym (still dressed, BTW), I got this tweet:

I felt kind of guilty for reading blogs and drinking coffee, and started to think I should just up and go to the gym.
Then a few minutes later, I got this one:

OK, OK! I'm going! I missed the class, but I know what to do.
THIS, people, is what Mamavation is all about.
Thank you, @fitcheerldr and
I am on my way to the gym!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

This is what I drink

Kind of earthy.
Full bodied enough.
That's all I'm going to say, because I really don't profess to be knowledgeable about wine.

Oh, one other thing. $5.99 at Trader Joe's.
That's a major selling point!

What do you drink?


Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Time

I like getting up early in the morning, before my family is even thinking about getting out of bed. On most mornings, I either go to the gym or go running with a couple neighborhood mamas. Even after that, I still have a good hour to hour and a half before the fam rises at 8 a.m.
Since I work outside the home, I have a lot of guilt about the time I spend away from home that isn't work. But this time is stolen time, since everyone is asleep!
I can read magazines, drink my coffee, explore the interwebs, do some sewing, or whatever.
So for a whole week last month, darling girlchild was getting up at 6:30 and following me downstairs. Which is not so bad except she was demanding my attention.
Girl: "Mama, please read me a story?"
Me: "No, you're not supposed to be up yet. Go back to bed."
Girl: "But I want to be with you!"
Me (picking up my Vogue mag): "That's nice, but this is my time. If you want to be downstairs, you can sit on that end of the couch and look at a book. But you have to let me have my time."
She was relentless. *@#!%&*! My time was ruined.

Next morning, same scenario.
This time, I thought to make her hot chocolate, thinking that would keep her busy long enough for me to do some writing. It worked a tad, but I was distressed to be losing my time alone.

Third morning, I'm on my spot on the couch drinking my coffee and reading.
padpadpadpad little feet down the stairs. I sighed.
Girl: "Mama, is this your time?"
Me: "Yes, dear. You should go back to bed."
Girl: "But I'm cold and thirsty. Will you make me hot chocolate?" {She often talks in riddles like that}
I come back with her cup of hot chocolate, and she is sitting in my spot on the couch, reading her Highlights magazine.
She giggled, and very pleased with herself said, "Look, Mama! Now it's my time!"

Oh, girl. If only you knew. It's always your time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Just Breathe

Sleepless nights.


I keep saying, it will be fine, I just need to let it go.
A friend responded, OK, but perhaps it would help if you unclench your hands and take a breath.

Hmm. There's a thought. I hadn't realized I was holding my breathe and clenching not just my hands, but my whole body.

I recently saw this on the twitter:


I'll just breathe.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Finding My Heaven in 2011

I recently read on this blog, (paraphrasing) "Only have things that you love." So I'm applying a critical eye to everything in our possession. This year is about finding my heaven. First step, a peaceful abode.

On the one hand, having kids gives me an excuse to have a messy house. On the other hand, GAH do I ever hate all the clutter!

Of all the things that drive me crazy (voice-mail, people who chew with their mouths open, awkward situations that could be avoided with a tiny bit of advance communication, etc.) clutter might just be the bane of my existence. I'm tackling it. Yep, I've had enough. What's that saying about cluttered surroundings reflecting a cluttered mind?

Here's the book situation IN MY LIVING ROOM. I'm sick of straightening those books weekly, and obviously this little rack thingy is not up for the challenge of containing all these kids books, as evidenced by the piles around it.

Here is the piano/stereo/toy pile:

Mind you, I have already pulled out 3 boxes of toys and stashed them in the back room. I'll deal with that later. They haven't been missed, which is good news.

Side note on the piano: we put it there about 5 years ago, and neither of us have liked it. It seems so huge there. But it's a bear to move. It's 109 years old and is missing a caster on the back. (We have that corner propped up on some granite coasters. Whatever works.) I thought it was stuck there forever, because when we moved it there, we asked two of Brian's friends to help him get it in place. We had JUST had the hardwood floors done, and didn't want to risk scratching the floor, so we called for reinforcements. Guess what? Huge gauge in the floor. I'm afraid I was less than gracious about it. In fact, I may have said something like, "The only reason we needed your help was to avoid that exact situation!" In my defense, I was 8 months pregnant, but looking back ~ I'm embarrassed. Sorry, guys.

Back to today.
Brian, being amazing both in physical strength and in mental acumen, figured out a way for he and I to move the piano by ourselves. I know, right? He put a hand truck under the end that is missing the caster. I lifted that end by using the weight of my body as leverage, and he lifted the whole other end of the piano. My job was simply to steer us into place. Awesome. {BTW, perfect example of potentially awkward situation being avoided by employing a little communication. Every step of the way, Brian would explain exactly what we were about to do, and even what we weren't going to do. Impressive, and seamless.}

Here's what we accomplished, late into the first day of 2011:

The shelves are two Expedit from IKEA. Our plan is to move the stereo out, which will help quite a bit more, but we're not quite there yet.

I'm not ready to take a picture of the piano area yet, but I'll update as soon as I do. I'm piece by piece finding my heaven in 2011!