Friday, October 20, 2017

The Friday Five!!

It's such a gorgeous fall day outside that I don't even care that I didn't get to any other posts this week! I'd promise I would next week, but between the kids and dog, freelance work, planning several celebrations, and just trying to keep up with all the world's WTF moments, it's probably unlikely. I'll try though! We actually had a pretty fabulous week, all things considered. Check out what made our little world go 'round this week ....

Reading -- we just started Chelsea Clinton's "It's Your World: Get Informed, Inspired, & Get Going" and the kids are hooked. Some of the chapters look real meaty for reading aloud, but we're going to give it a try. In an effort to keep it real while also keeping up with Kane's historical reading, I also just started "The Barbarous Years." Not my normal reading choice, but I'm trying to expand my literary horizons too.

Making -- Cam and I got to check out Kid Made Modern's new Sparkle Stash this week and made some super fab clip-on earrings.

Playing -- Kane's kindle access has dwindled down to nothing recently, so we had to resort to old fashioned video game turned board games this week.

Cooking -- this Sausage Ragù over Polenta is defintely a new fall favorite -- it's super easy, everyone loved it, I bet the sauce would be good over pasta too.

Wanting -- our kitchen was built with space for a teeny tiny refrigerator. When the original one broke, there was only one that would fit in the same spot and I hate it. Plus an adult who lives in our home who is not me broke the crisper drawer and I haven't been able to find a replacement. So my veggies are equally unhappy. A major clean out and organization is needed and I think these will help! 

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Friday Five!!

I would say that I'm happy it's Friday, but I feel like each day this month the world is bringing a fresh dose of WTF. At the risk of posting even less than I have been, I just might have to get rid of all technology for a while to reset. But if we ignore all the crazy being slung this week, this is what else we had going on ....

p.s. damn you, Nats. This town just really needed a win in something this year.

Cooking -- in my ongoing quest to try new chili recipes, we checked out this cross-mac-and-cheese version this week. The kids loved it, but I'm still on the fence about whether I like the chili / pasta combo. 

Making -- we haven't have much time to do a lot of making this school year, but I did promise the kids that we could go alllll out for Halloween this year. So we spent last weekend decorating the outside of our house and it's looking pretty spooky! I actually read the directions on the spider webs this time -- who knew!? 

Playing -- one of my favorite 2nd grade math games from Kane last year was Yektti. There are lots of different variations on the basic sorting and guessing game and I'm so happy that it's Cam's turn this year. We've been playing a bunch! 

Reading -- Kane has really gotten into history of the world wars. I'm pretty much history in one ear, out the next. So my mom got him some really fabulous kids history books on WWI, WWII, and the Vietnam War for his birthday. He's obsessed. He asked to stay up to read to himself the other night for the first time ever. On that same note, he really likes to get into obscure historical trivia so we just started listening to the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast

Wanting -- I left my old leather slip on shoes in San Fran because they were totally cooked after all that walking. I need a new pair for fall and you can't go wrong with rose gold

Monday, October 9, 2017

Stifatho + 30 Days of Dinner!!

This past month has mostly consisted of me trying to figure out back-to-school madness while trying to stay on top of freelance work and dealing with the dog. We had a fairly lazy summer so it hasn't been the smoothest of transitions. Actually, the kids seem to be handling it totally fine—I'm the one spinning (you might have noticed I've barely posted on the blog!). But I feel like I've got a new meal plan schedule in place that might actually work. I had to buckle down on cooking earlier in the day or slow cooking at the beginning of the week and shift our Plated meals to later in the week. I need to still ratchet down on the dining out, but I also have to let go of the idea that I can actually cook every weeknight (although the kids' sushi habit needs some reining in too).

In any event, it's most definitely fall in D.C. and we've all been craving warm, spiced, slow-cooked meals. This Greek Stew is one of our family's most favorites and I always double it for leftovers. Some of the ingredients sound kind of random (currants?), but don't skip them, they all make the dish.

(slightly modified from Dialed-in Nutrition)

- 3 tbsp olive oil 
- 2 - 3 lb stew beef cut into 1.5" cubes 
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 10 garlic cloves, lightly crushed 
- 1 cup tomato puree 
- 1/2 cup dry red wine 
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar 
- 2 bay leaves 
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 whole cloves 
- salt and pepper to taste 
- 2 tbsp currants 
- 1 cup walnut halves 
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese 

1. In a dutch oven, heat olive oil and sear meat on all sides. Work in batches to get a nice sear on all meat. Place in bowl to catch the drippings. 

2. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add tomato puree, wine, and wine vinegar to deglaze the dutch oven. Return meat. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, clove, and salt and pepper to taste. 

3. Cover dutch oven and braise over low heat for about an hour. Add the currants and braise until meat is very tender, about another hour. Add the walnuts and cook 20 minutes more. Sprinkled with feta cheese and serve. 

*                    *                    *

Day 1 (W) -- Baked Beef Meatballs with Sweet Spices
Day 2 (Th) -- dinner out
Day 3 (F) -- dinner in Chicago
Day 4 (Sat) -- dinner in Chicago
Day 5 (Sun) -- dinner in Chicago

Day 6 (M) -- dinner out
Day 7 (T) -- Greek Chicken Sausage Sandwiches; roasted potatoes 
Day 8 (W) -- Cod Basquaise with Yellow Rice (Plated)
Day 9 (Th) -- Seared Pork Chops with Mushroom, Zucchini, and Pea Gratin (Plated)
Day 10 (F) -- brinner
Day 11 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 12 (Sun) -- Grilled Lemon Chicken Salad

Day 13 (M) -- dinner out
Day 14 (T) -- Slow Cooker Jalapeño Popper Chicken Chili
Day 15 (W) -- Crispy Salmon with White Beans and Kale (Plated)
Day 16 (Th) -- Sticky Sesame Cauliflower with Vegetable Fried Rice (Plated) -- everyone loved the fried rice, the all veggie dinner not so much.
Day 17 (F) -- Greek Marinated Flank Steak and veggie tray
Day 18 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 19 (Sun) -- dinner out

Day 20 (M) -- dinner out
Day 21 (T) -- Crockpot Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili -- several friends recommended this and while it was good, I thought it needed a lot more seasoning. Will try again and add a little kick!
Day 22 (W) -- Sheetpan Chili Dijon Pork Tenderloin; roasted potatoes; spinach salad
Day 23 (Th) -- Salmon Burgers with Chive Aioli and Mache (Plated)
Day 24 (F) -- dinner out
Day 25 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 26 (Sun) -- burgers and salad in NJ for Joel's family birthday dinner

Day 27 (M) -- Beef and Cheese Empanadas with Salsa Roja and Spinach Salad (Plated)
Day 28 (T) -- Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup -- I tried to rush this one and added extra pasta too soon. So it came out more like a bake with soggy pasta. But the flavors were there, so I'll try again.
Day 29 (W) -- Indian Butter Chicken with Sautéed Spinach + Naan (Plated)
Day 30 (Th) -- Soy-Glazed Steak with Carrot, Edamame, and Avocado Salad (Plated)

Monday, September 18, 2017

2017 Summer Bucket List Final Update + 2017 FALL BUCKET LIST!!

We managed to knock a bunch of additional items off of our Summer Bucket List since our last update. This was not a banner season in terms of bucket list accomplishments, but I think it definitely marked a turning point in the kids' growth—they are in dire need of free down time and quite capable of entertaining themselves. They'd wake up pumped for an activity but then just ask for time to putter about. That being said, fall is definitely one of their favorite seasons and they were all about creating a new fall list!

First up, here's how we finished up summer:

16. New science exhibit -- we loved the new to us exhibits at the California Academy of Sciences!

17. New historical site -- our report on Angel Island and Alcatraz are still on the way, but I'll note that we had an unexpected amazing trip to historical Angel Island.

18. Have a picnic -- we had a lovely picnic lunch on the top of a waterfall in Yosemite—post to come this week!

19. Find a new beach -- we found new beaches at both Angel Island and in Yosemite.

20. Workbooks -- the kids were total champs at working on reading, math, and writing over the summer and completed several workbooks each.

21. Rock climbing -- Yosemite!

22. Find a waterfall -- Again, Yosemite. Our bucket list thanks you.

23. Baseball game -- G O N A T S

24. Ride in a boat -- boat to both Angel Island and Alcatraz.

25. See sunrise -- we left really early for Cali and caught the sun coming up on our ride to the airport.

26. See sunset -- and then we saw the sun go down behind Golden Gate Bridge our first night there!

27. Watch a meteor shower -- not technically a meteor shower, but I'm counting the eclipse for this one. It was super cool.

28. + 29. Two new museums -- we went to several new museums this summer, but I'll count the DeYoung and San Fransisco MOMA (post also yet to come) for this.

30. New science project -- saltwater taffy slime!

31. + 32. Two service projects -- the kids both helped their grandfather deliver food with Meals on Wheels and Cami also chopped off 10+ inches of her hair for Locks of Love.

33., 34., and 35. -- three new NPS passport stamps in California at Muir Woods, Alcatraz, and Yosemite.

Now, on to the Fall Bucket List!


Friday, September 15, 2017

The Friday Five!!

I have a whole slate of posts planned that I just can't seem to get to and it's driving me nuts. The kids are happily back in school, but I feel a little bit like a spinning top. I haven't even made it through our August vacation photos and there's been an overflowing basket of clean (at least folded for once) clothes in my office all week. I'm really, really looking forward to the weekend. Here's what went down this week though ....

Cooking -- the kids weekday extracurriculars run a little late for my taste this year so I'm still trying to figure out weekday cooking. I think I might need to shift some of our weekend dining out to at least one weekday, but I also just need to get more organized with slow cooked meals that are ready when we get home. This Jalapeño Popper Chili is a family fave and did the trick for one such late night this week.

Making -- I always keep my eye on Oriental Trading Co. for easy art/craft projects that the kids can do on their own. And since I banned weekday screen time (WHY!?!), we've needed a few more. Cami has loved these Mandala Sand Art Pictures, which turn out amazingly cool.

Reading -- we finally finished A Wind in the Door which I found really heavy to listen to as an audiobook. I think we need to go back and read it together to pick through the philosophical and theological layers. I really wanted to pick something lighter for our next book, but the kids insisted on returning to the Wonder series with Auggie & Me. Cam and I have also been reading Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World. We first spotted it at the San Francisco MOMA gift store (I could literally buy everything in the MOMA gift store), but waited until we got home to check it out of the library. It's great!

Wanting -- I hate taking my FitBit off, but I'm having a hard time finding a fashionable band to wear it outside of exercising. This is the closest thing I've found to what I want. 

Playing -- our Halloween costume planning has the kids all the rage about Egyptians again and Kane has renewed his obsession with Senet.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kids Reading Lounge

It's a rainy day in D.C., so our new outdoor reading lounge is packed up at the moment, but you can head over to Honest to Nod to see how we roll it out when the sun is shining! So easy and super cozy.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Friday Five!!

We are just wrapping up our first week back to school! Other than trying to figure out how we ever got out of the house by 7.45 a.m., everything went swimmingly. Here's what else we got after this week ....

Making -- the kids needed to bring a framed picture to school so I picked up a bunch of these wooden frames to have them decorate themselves. 

Reading -- Kane is still hooked on presidential trivia and can't put this one down! I just started Rebel Mother and can't put it down either!

Wanting -- we go through an obscene amount of La Croix in our house. Obscene. This chick claims to have found the best online prices, we'll see ....

Playing -- sometimes you just have to stick with the classics. Cam love UNO and has been crushing me at games this week. 

Cooking -- Cam has continued her adventures in cooking with me. She's really outgrown the nylon starter set of knives we've used for years, so I just bought this kid-sized set of the real thing upon several recommendations. We'll let you know!!