Monday, December 5, 2016

Holiday Family Traditions: Festive Kids Room Decor

For the past few years, we've stuck to our own home for the winter holidays. Traveling is expensive, always crazy, and it's just not as fun for Santa to visit the kids in advance (or schlep presents elsewhere). But I always miss my mom's holiday tradition of decking out our childhood rooms. So I decided to pick it up and decorate our kids' rooms this year in the same way. The kids LOVE it (and you just might find me snuggled up in their flannel sheets too). Head over to The Land of Nod to see how I carried on this family tradition.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Friday Five!!

Cooking -- ever since the kids lost their minds when I made vegetarian tacos, but then proceeded to down several of them each, I decided that all our tacos will have veggies in them. I mean, I'll pretty much eat anything wrapped in a tortilla too, so it makes sense. These Steak Fajitas with Chimichurri and Cucumber Salsa are a little time consuming, but when they eat even MORE veggies AND fruit in the tortilla, it's totally worth it.

Making -- did you catch our super cute (and free!) printable holiday coloring placemat on International Arrivals' blog yesterday?  I couldn't believe how much time the kids spent coloring them in.

Reading -- we started listening to Evil Spy School this week and everyone loves it. For some reason, the first Spy School audiobook wasn't available, so we started with the second. But we had no problem picking up there. I also started listening to 99% Invisible this week—it's a great podcast that focuses on design and architecture. And even though short podcasts bug me for the kids, it's good for me. If I get too roped in to a long episode, I'll sit outside listening to it instead of going in to work!

Playing -- this is a fun version of the family game that is easy for kids to get into on their own!

Wanting -- I need a new metallic clutch and I love this Loeffler Randall one with a tassel.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Creative Ideas for the Kids Holiday Table

I actually loved being at the kids table for holiday meals. We got sparkling grape juice in miniature wine goblets and tried to eat as many marshmallows off the sweet potatoes without eating any actual vegetables. But maybe that's just me. Our kids like being where the action is with the grownups, but when our big table is full, they too get sent over to the kids table. So I thought I'd come up with a few fun ways to keep them entertained and happy about it. Head over to the International Arrivals blog to see what I've got cooking—including a free holiday color-in placemat to download! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Easy Honey Dijon Skillet Chicken + 30 Days of Dinner!!

I've been in a real rut with chicken. I try to work it in the menu several times a week, but I feel like I just keep falling back on the same several recipes or get stuck making a more complicated recipe just to get more flavor. But this Easy Honey Dijon Skillet Chicken is super delicious, quick for a weeknight meal, and full of fall flavors. Give it a try if you're looking for a new weeknight headliner!

The rest of our 30 Days is all over the place, which maybe is just our new normal. I've been stressed and not eating as clean as I'd like, but at this point, I'm just trying to make it through the holidays! Lots of good recipes mixed in though!

Easy Honey Dijon Skillet Chicken

- 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika 
- 2 tbsp olive oil 
- 1/2 cup dry sherry 
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock 
- 1/4 cup dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp whole grain mustard 
- 3 tbsp honey 
- fresh chopped herbs (I used parsley and chives) 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pat the chicken completely dry with paper towels.

In a bowel, whisk together the salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Sprinkle it liberally all over both sides of the chicken pieces.

Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook on both sides until deeply golden, about 5 minutes per side. Once finished browning both sides, add the sherry to deglaze the pan. The pan should be hot enough that the sherry begins to bubble. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low.

In a bowl, stir together the stock, mustards, and honey. Pour the mixture over the chicken and turn the chicken a few times to coat. Cover the skillet and place it in the oven for 15 minutes, just until the chicken cooks through.

*          *          *

30 Days of Dinner

Day 1 (F) -- Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken; Lemon Herb Roasted Potatoes; salad
Day 2 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 3 (Sun) -- Slow Cooker Cholula Shredded Beef Tacos -- everyone LOVED these

Day 4 (M) -- pizza and salad for Halloween!
Day 5 (T) -- leftovers
Day 6 (W) -- Simple Sicilian-Style Grilled Steak; Absurdly Addictive Asparagus; roasted potatoes
Day 8 (F) -- leftovers
Day 9 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 10 (Sun) -- brinner 

Day 11 (M) -- One Skillet Mediterranean Chicken; twice baked potatoes
Day 12 (T) -- Crockpot Beef Chili 
Day 13 (W) -- leftovers 
Day 14 (Th) -- dinner out 
Day 15 (F) -- Balsamic and Basil Marinated Steak with Red Pepper Pesto; cooked carrots
Day 16 (Sat) -- we had an impromptu dinner party so I made Caramelized Onion Tarts with Apples, Prosciutto and Provolone Paninis with Fig Jam, the same steak as the night before, Roasted Salmon with Honey-Dijon Glaze, and friends brought veggies and dessert!
Day 17 (Sun) -- Balsamic Grilled Chicken; carrots 

Day 18 (M) -- One Pot Cheesy Taco Skillet
Day 19 (T) -- Greek Lamb Souvlaki Plates with Avocado Tzatziki -- the kids loved this
Day 20 (W) -- leftovers 
Day 21 (Th) -- Easy Honey Dijon Skillet Chicken; rice; green beans 
Day 22 (F) -- dinner out 
Day 23 (Sat) -- dinner out 
Day 24 (Sun) -- Greek Beef Stew; mashed potatoes 

Day 25 (M) -- Chicken tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Avocado Cream ... BUT I forgot to get chicken at the store so I just subbed in several kinds of bell peppers and an onion for the chicken. The kids lost their minds, but then ate several tacos each. So I think I'll make veggie tacos a new thing. 
Day 26 (T) -- dinner out 
Day 27 (W) -- Crockpot Beef Chili -- everyone loved this the first time and it was a great easy meal to have the night before Thanksgiving. 
Day 28 (Th) -- Thanksgiving!! I made Smoked Salmon 7-Layer Dip (loved), shrimp cocktail, and a cheese plate for apps. For the main course, I made Roasted Turkey Breast with Maple Bourbon Glaze, Caramelized Onion and Bacon GravyBourdain's take on Robuchon's Mashed Potatoes, Grapefruit-Apricot Cranberry Relish with Rosemary, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cumin and Coriander, Sausage and Herb Stuffing, and Hashbrowns (because Joel insisted). My sister-in-law brought a yummy salad and my in-laws brought rolls and pie. Allllll delicious. 
Day 29 (F) -- leftovers
Day 30 (Sat) --  dinner out

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ragnar Kjartansson at the Hirshhorn Museum

It's no secret that the Hirshhorn Museum is one of my most favorite museums in DC. And we've seen some seriously cool exhibits move through there (you can find lots of our past visits here). But the Ragnar Kjartansson exhibit was truly like nothing we've ever seen. It was so interactive and, just, alive—we were all completely mesmerized. I had heard plenty about the "gold lady" ahead of time and a few whisperings of another cool musical installation, but I wasn't really prepared for the whole experience. I knew it was going to be a lot of performance art, but knowing that and experiencing it are two totally different things.

To start, it's a massive exhibit full of so much art. And the set up seemed to take advantage of the Hirshhorn's circular architecture in a way that just kept drawing us in further down the rabbit hole. We couldn't wait to see what was around the next bend.

The gold lady was all that and then some, but for some reason it freaked the kids out a little bit to stand so close to a live person and not feel like they were just staring at someone. So I didn't get any really good shots of it, which is fine because you should go see it yourself anyway!

They loved the long curving halls of art and found the few initial video installations interesting, but it was the larger musical installation that totally captured us all. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that it is an installation that takes a long time to view in it's entirety (I think it was 64 minutes). And we stayed in the room for 1 1/2 views. Standing the whole time. The thing I couldn't get over was the feeling of delight and togetherness it seemed to bring to everyone in the exhibit. In a time when so much of DC seems to be depressed, this particular exhibit delivered a totally unexpected feeling of hope. It is truly amazing and I'm so jealous of the first-time visitor!

We finally dragged ourselves away from that and wrapped up the rest of the exhibit fairly quickly. I'd promised the kids that we'd get out to the sculpture garden, so I took them across the street to let off a little steam.

The exhibit will be at the Hirshhorn until January 8, 2017. If you are anywhere near DC or are going to be visiting before then, it's a must see!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Giving Back Advent Calendar

I love, love the holiday season. But every year I feel like I spend inordinate amounts of time making sure our family focuses on the real meaning of the holidays and not just the piles of presents rolling in. We celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in our home, so it's no small feat. The kids are always asking me for an Advent Calendar, but I've resisted. This year, I decided to try something different: a Giving Back Advent Calendar. Head over to Honest to Nod to see what I put together! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Friday Five!!

Although I think it's vitally important to continue addressing all of the serious things going on in our country right now, I am really looking forward to the holidays bringing a little extra joy and comfort around our house. Believe me, our family feels much of the negativity directly and continues to feel for those experiencing other difficulties that we don't too. But man I need something good to come along soon. And we did work in a few good things this week too -- check 'em out. 

Reading -- we are loving this sequel to Mr. Lemoncello's Library.

Making -- did you catch our DIY Gratefulness Banner? Free download and a good activity to keep kids busy while you cook! 

Wanting -- ummmmm, I absolutely need this Jonathan Adler gold marble dinnerware for Thanksgiving. 

Playing -- Pass the Pigs is one of my favorite childhood games and I love that Cam loves it now too. 

Cooking -- Half-baked Harvest's Greek Lamb Souvlaki Plates were out of this world. The kids both asked for them as leftovers the next night.